"Trust me-----this does NOT play like a TV movie. It is a well written story about a mother of 3 who has her youngest boy kidnapped from her. Michelle Pfieffer's performance was great as always----but the REAL star of this movie was Ryan Merriman (as her son, Ben Cappadora). Such talent and emotion for someone so young."
A heartwarming movie!
D. Litton | Wilmington, NC | 01/24/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Deep End of the Ocean" is one of the best movies of 1999, complex and moving, with truly emotional characters played by actors who carry the weight of the story on their shoulders with incredible ease and make it heartwarming and believable. The movie is actually two different stories, one being a family's emotional coming-to-terms with a missing child, and then the pain and stress they must endure when he shows up nine years later. On her way to her high school reunion, Beth Cappadora is told by her husband that if her head wasn't attached to her, she would lose it quickly. This provides a short laugh, while also setting up what is to come. At the reunion, she leaves her three-year-old son Ben in the care of his older brother Vincent, only to come back moments later and realize that he is gone. Hysterics grow, and after a thorough search of the building, he is nowhere to be found. Surrounded by family and friends, Beth begins to cope with her mistake as the community gets involved in the search for Ben, without success. Resigned to the fact that he will never be found, she returns home, and while the first steps to coping with what has happened are rocky, the family seems to be getting along well after the passage of nine years. They have moved to a new house in a new town, her husband has the restaurant he always wanted... A knock on the door turns everything upside down. Beth immediately recognizes the boy as her son, and is relieved and confused that he lives only two blocks away from their new residence. The authorities get involved, and soon Ben is taken from the only home he can remember and placed in a new and somewhat emotionally frightening setting where he is called by a name he does not know and lives with people he does not remember or feel much for. What makes this movie work for me is the complexity of the story as well as the characters, and the magnificence in which the two blend together. The first part of the story admittedly is the more believable of the two, diving into the emotions of the family as they must cope with the grief of the missing Ben. Beth's reaction to her son's disappearance is superbly acted out by Michelle Pheiffer, who carries it like she's been through it in reality. The first half of the movie shows her dealing with the pain in the only way she knows how: shutting everyone else out, ignoring the optimism of life that is to be explored. This causes her to become somewhat distanced from her husband, played by Treat Williams, and her oldest son, who feels the great weight of responsibility set in when he must take care of his little sister while his parents argue. The second half of the movie is the more emotional of the two, however, as the family, who is just beginning to enjoy life, find their son and bring him back home. There is an unmistakable truth in what occurs emotionally between the two brothers, Vincent and Ben, who goes by Sam. Vincent, who has just begun to gain the attention he never got from his parents, feels threatened by the presence of Ben, and does everything he can to make his long-lost sibling feel unwelcome. This, accompanied by the emotional baggage toted by the family in their struggle to be happy together all conspire to make the movie more heartfelt, warming and true. Some of the best acting talent ever has gone into the making of this movie, which is heavily called for considering the amount of emotion that needs to be conveyed to the audience. Michelle Pheiffer is Beth Cappadora, and in this role, she is literally required to become her character. She does this with superb talent, playing Beth as an overall emotional person with a strong will hidden beneath her sorrows. Treat Williams makes the perfect supportive husband, as well as a father who just wants things to be like he always imagined for his family. Ben's return has a big effect on him, and when he puts his foot down about what the family does together, the acting is nothing short of amazing. Jackson does a great job in playing the older brother Vincent, as well as the wild-child teenager who gets into a lot of trouble. Whoopi Goldberg seems like a stretch as the detective working the case, but she works the camera as well with her serious demeanor. Complexity and integrity are what make a movie worth watching, and "The Deep End of the Ocean" has all of this and more. The fact that the plot is basically two parts should not be a deference from the film; believe me, the story rolls right along. Dynamic performances and highly likeable characters also add to the film's appeal. What more can you ask for?"
The Deep End of the Ocean
Sharee L Coffey | Roscoe, IL United States | 03/27/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Deep End of the Ocean is a drama about child/stranger abduction. The Cappadora's are a family of five living in Wisconsin. The mother, Beth (played by Michelle Phillips), is a photographer. One fall day, she and her three children Vincent (5), Ben (3), and Carrie (a few months old) take a weekend trip to Chicago to attend her class reunion. Beth and the children arrive at the hotel, where she is greeted by many past and present friends. Amongst all the chaos and excitement in the lobby, Ben was kidnapped while Vincent was supposed to be watching him. Pat, Beth's husband (played by Treet Williams), was notified and immediately went to Beth's side. Beth remained in Chicago for two months while Pat returned to Wisconsin with Vincent and Carrie. While Beth was in Chicago, she became close to a police detective named Candy Bliss (played by Whoopi Goldberg), basically living at the police station. Beth finally returned home after two months of staying in Chicago. Pat was the backbone of the family by taking care of the children and the family business while Beth fell deeper into depression. Even though she has two children that need her to love them, she can only think of Ben and how she lost him. The story moves ahead nine years. Pat opened a new restaurant in Chicago, where they moved to two years before. Beth started taking pictures again and appears to have adjusted to their life without Ben. Carrie was now nine years old and Vincent was a teenager with many behavioral problems. Life moved on until one day a boy knocked on their door asking if he could mow their yard. Beth froze in disbelief. Beth took a few pictures of him, while he mowed the yard and compared them to the pictures to the age-progression picture that the police had made of Ben. The pictures looked identical. Life turned upside-down again. The police, Beth, Pat, and Candy went to Ben's home. Ben's "father", George Karras, didn't understand what was happening because he had legally adopted Ben. Actually, he adopted Sam, Ben's new name. This plot in the story is astonishing since Beth doesn't know the identity of the abductor and George didn't realize that Ben was kidnapped. Moving Ben into the Cappadora's home is stressful on the whole family. Many conflicting emotions between Beth and Pat surface as they search for a way to reconnect with the child they had lost. Vincent and Carrie sit in the background while Beth and Pat focus on their relationship with Ben. The attention Ben gets from everyone adds stress to the already strained relationship between him and Vincent. Ben tries to stay open to the possibilities and doesn't want to close any doors. He wants to keep his relationship with George, but Beth and Pat make it virtually impossible. Ben doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings but wants happiness for himslf also. At the end of the movie, everyone seems to relax as the light at the end of the tunnel gets closer. A serene, calm atmosphere absorbs the last scene as Ben and Vincent finally connect. This story has many sides. When Beth loses Ben, the pain she felt makes your heart heavy. Any mother can only imagine how that feels. Watching it happen to someone else is painful but the thought of that happening to your own child is overwhelming. A joyful side of this movie is when Ben is found. The excitement, the wonder, and the anticipation of Sam being Ben, was a high point of the movie. He had been two blocks away for two years. A simple knock on the door changed their lives again. The section of the movie that included Sam was a little slow. Beth, Pat, and Ben (Sam) seemed to be living the same way for months with no noticeable progress. This made this movie seem to last longer than what it really needed to be. An aspect that could have made this movie more realistic is Ben's personality. He is an extremely mature twelve-year old. His reactions were too optimistic and cheerful most of the time. I think that the typical teenager in this situation would have rebelled or become more isolated. If Ben had been more confused, perhaps his reactions would have been easier to sympathize with. I didn't feel a connection with Ben. Even though he was one of the main characters, I didn't feel any kind of relationship with him. This story is divided into two sections. The first part is from the abduction through three or four months following the abduction. This part pulls on your emotions of how you would cope with the loss of your child. It's as if Ben were dead but not knowing exactly if he is or not is worse. The second half deals with the return of Ben and how the family including Ben copes with this adjustment. The twists in this half seem to fade compared to the first half. The struggles and accomplishments appear to compliment each other but without a climax. The family pushes each other away but together at the end. There's not a huge event or tragedy that brings them back together. This movie is what I would call a "chick-flick" in regards to the story following the mother's perspective. It really calls to mother's emotions. It brings the viewer to a level that is uncomfortable and to a situation that only happens to other children, not yours. "What if my child was kidnapped?" is a powerful statement. This movie makes you examine your own habits or practices and what you would do in the same situation. I left this movie realizing that I could be Beth. Even though this is only a movie, it has an underlying message about how child abduction only takes a second."
Maryann Ryan | Pennsylvania, USA | 02/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think this movie is great. It has such a great ending and Jonathan Jackson is the greatest. The only thing that I would change is they show more of Jonathan Jackson. He is the greatest actor. Michelle Phieffer and Treat Williams were also great. I reccommend that you see this movie. I loved it so much I bought it and I rarely buy movies."
A wonderful kleenex movie
Maryann Ryan | 10/02/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was a fantastic movie, but keep your kleenex handy.I cried many times throughout.Ryan Merriman was great asthe kidnapped son; I willlook forward to his futureprojects. All in all, a greatflick."