The Deep End of the Ocean

on March 12, 1999 by Tim Cogshell
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   A movie better suited to the Lifetime Network, "The Deep End of the Ocean" doesn't live up to its emotional aspirations. The premise involves the abduction of a child who suddenly reappears nine years later. A good deal of the more intriguing elements of the Jacquelyn Mitchard novel on which the film is based did not make it into the movie; instead, screenwriter Stephen Schiff ("Lolita")'s adaptation is both flat and terse. One hardly has time to feel the impact of three-year-old Ben (Michael McElroy)'s abduction before we are on to other, less emotionally engaging issues. When he returns as 12-year-old Sam (Ryan Merriman), it's as if we're returning from a commercial break. The potentially interesting part of the story--how and why Ben was abducted in the first place--is treated as a backdrop. Director Ulu Grosbard ("Georgia")'s tempered approach has Michelle Pfeiffer and Treat Williams performing as though they're in a British period piece; it simply does not resonate. Starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Treat Williams. Directed by Ulu Grosbard. Written by Stephen Schiff. Produced by Kate Guinzberg and Steve Nicolaides. A Columbia release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for language and thematic elements. Running time: 148 min
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