Dec 032003
Authors: Jeremy Anderson

It is every parent’s worst nightmare that their child get

kidnapped and in director Ron Howard’s new film “The Missing,” that

nightmare becomes reality for frontierswoman Maggie Gilkesen (Cate

Blanchet) when her oldest daughter gets abducted. The idea of

another kidnapped child movie may sound less than original, but

“The Missing” is not a typical kidnapping movie.

Lily (“Thirteen’s” Evan Rachel Wood) has not been kidnapped by

your average ski mask-wearing crazy. Oh no, Lily’s captor is an

Apache Brujo (witch) who has taken her and others to sell them to

Mexicans as prostitutes. Luckily for Maggie, her estranged father,

Samuel (Tommy Lee Jones), who abandoned his family years ago to

live with Indians, showed up just prior to the kidnapping. Maggie

despises her father for deserting her as a child, but can’t deny

his usefulness in aiding the search for her daughter.

As father and daughter, as well as Maggie’s youngest daughter,

Dot, set out to find the missing girl, there are more than a few

deep-seated issues for Maggie and Samuel to work out along the way.

“The Missing” deals as much with the reconciliation of this father

and daughter as it does about whether or not they will find the

kidnapped girl. And since the film clocks in at well over two

hours, there is ample time for both plots to materialize.

“The Missing” is being classified as a western, but it is

equally a thriller and family drama. The film is often very

exciting and harsh, sometimes touching, and at times captivating as

it pulls you along on its quest. Unfortunately, it becomes a little


Although it is a commonly used movie convention, sometimes

numerous failed attempts by characters to accomplish the task they

set out to do tries an audience’s patience. Just when you think

Maggie and gang are about to finally succeed in freeing the captive

girls, someone always has to do something stupid to ruin

everything. “The Missing” uses this tool in an attempt to stretch

out the drama and excitement for as long as possible, but you can

only take so much before you feel like the characters should say

“screw it” and go home.

Another related problem with the film lies with Lily herself. In

the short while before her kidnapping, Lily is constantly whining

and complaining about frontier life and her dreams of living in the

city. She is a disrespectful brat to her mom, a characteristic

typical of her age. In order for the audience to really hope for

her safe rescue, it would have been more effective if a stronger

bond with her family had been displayed.

Despite those minimal flaws, “The Missing” is an entertaining

film. The movie is a little long, but I never felt bored. The

performances are great, especially from Blanchet, and the movie

leaves an impression on you that lasts after you leave the


3 out of 4 rams

Movies in Brief

“The Haunted Mansion”

Eddie Murphy stars in this film adaptation of the popular

Disneyland attraction as a realtor who goes with his wife and kids

to a spooky mansion after its owner expresses interest in selling

the house.

The mansion and its accompanying surroundings are the most

impressive things about the film. Murphy is only mediocre in the

role, as is the film itself. The movie is aimed at family

entertainment, but the convoluted plot may be too confusing for


2.5 out of 4

“Bad Santa”

Billy Bob Thorton makes Scrooge look like Santa himself in this

dark, Christmas comedy. Thorton stars as a department store Santa

who endures his dislike for all things good in order to rob the

stores at the end of his stint.

The film is very funny at times, but seeing a man dressed as

Santa endlessly get drunk and swear is a joke that loses its

initial freshness after awhile. Due to its coarseness, “Bad Santa”

is not for kids or even a lot of adults for that matter.

2.5 out of 4

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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