Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story (2003)
Potts Posing as Posey
The thing to remember about this TV movie is that it is called "Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story" and as such whilst it does go into some detail about the online activity of paedophiles as well as the way the authorities try to catch them it is really the story of Julie Posey. Now for those who are aware of Julie Posey, seen her interviewed and read about her that may be a problem, it certainly appears to be by some of the reviews I have read. But for those who are not aware of Julie Posey we get an interesting movie based on a true story which seems to have gone through a bit too much working to turn her story into a big drama. Maybe what we watch is more fact than fiction as there are elements to "Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story" which feel like they have come from the thriller workshop and end up spoiling things.
For their daughter's 13th birthday Julie (Annie Potts - Toy Story 2) and Jerry Posey (Carl Marotte) by her a computer for her bedroom and are totally unaware that late at night she is chatting to people online. When Julie discovers that Kristyn (Ksenia Solo) has arranged to meet one of these men she manages to prevent it and in doing so discovers that the police do not have the resources to patrol internet chatrooms to try and capture those grooming children online. Incensed she offers her services as bait to pretend to be a 14 year old girl in order for the police to catch paedophiles who prey on young children online.
In a way you can split "Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story" into two halves with the first half being a more generic look at online activity of those who groom children. As such we get this intro which sees Julie become aware of the online issue when her daughter arranges to meet an older man she had chatted too online and so incensed by the lack of police resources offers her services as bait to catch paedophiles through internet chatrooms. Now this is interesting because we do see not only how paedophiles work on line but also how those trying to trap them work, having to make sure they never instigate anything. We also see how validity of information is important as is a person's character which brings Julie's own story of being abused as a child to the fore. All of which is interesting but fails to really deliver a very important message and that is parents need to be more active in knowing what their children do online especially when they are locked away in their bedroom.
Now this first half which also includes a sting to trap a paedophile leads to more of a focus on Julie herself. As already mentioned her own childhood is mentioned and we also see the emotional demands it puts on her family as it puts her into danger. But this for me is where things go a bit too screenplay workshop as the story leads to Julie trying to trap the man who had been chatting up her daughter on line. What we see may have really happened but it is feels like a scene you will see in any number of TV thrillers, dark playground, cops trailing Julie etc etc that it feels manufactured. What also doesn't help this is that through a series of circumstances Julie herself masquerades as a 14 year old girl, which may have happened but also feels manufactured.
Talking of which I like Annie Potts as an actress and for the first half of "Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story" as she plays the housewife trying to help and discovering the seedy world of online chatrooms she is effective, believable as a concerned mother spurred on by what happened to her and nearly to her daughter. But then during the second half it all becomes a bit too crusader like becoming too involved in the actual capture of the paedophiles. And whilst Annie Potts still looked younger than her age in 2003 when we get to the scenes where she masquerades as a 14 year old it is simply wrong.
What this all boils down to is that "Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story" is a movie which works in part. The first half which introduces us to the online threat of paedophiles and online grooming is interesting even now almost a decade later. But unfortunately the second half ends up feeling like a manufactured crime drama with several things which just feel wrong.
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