The Deep End of the Ocean (1999) Movie Review

The Deep End of the Ocean (1999)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Michelle Pfeiffer in The Deep End of the Ocean (1999)

The Disappearance of Ben Cappadora

Having gone to her high school reunion in Chicago, Beth Cappadora (Michelle Pfeiffer - One Fine Day) has taken her three children with her. But whilst there, her youngest child, Ben (Michael McElroy), disappears. Thinking he has gone exploring around the hotel lobby Beth starts to fear the worse when she can't find him. With Beth's husband, Pat (Treat Williams - The Devil's Own), having arrived the police lead by Detective Candy Bliss (Whoopi Goldberg) start the search for Ben but with no success. The loss of their son not only leads to Beth having an emotional breakdown but marriage trouble as it puts a strain on her relationship to Pat. Nine years later and having finally moved on from the tragedy Beth and her family have relocated to Chicago where Pat has opened a restaurant. But when a young boy by the name of Sam (Ryan Merriman - Everything That Rises) shows up at their door wanting to see if he can mow the lawn Beth is convinced he is their missing son Ben.

I read something amusing when I was looking for opinions on "The Deep End of the Ocean" as someone called it original. In fairness the person who wrote that may have not watched many movies but anyone who has a fondness for TV movies will tell you that the scenario of a child going missing only to be discovered many years later has been done quite a few times. As such "The Deep End of the Ocean" delivers a storyline which to me ended up similar to a lot of movies I have watched with the level of production making it stand apart from these movies.

Treat Williams in The Deep End of the Ocean (1999)

So what we get in "The Deep End of the Ocean" following the disappearance of Ben is everything from the initial search, the media frenzy, the emotional breakdown of Beth, her other son blaming himself as well as the marriage problems as Beth struggles in the wake of the tragedy. The thing is that whilst it shows all these aspects, ticking the boxes if you like, it never shows any depth to any of this as one minute we go from a search nerve centre being set up then the next it being closed down when nothing comes of it.

It is the same when later on in the movie Beth meets Sam and immediately knows that he is her missing son Ben. We get a lot more areas mentioned from who is to blame, what would be best but there is again no depth to this, no real examination of the consequences of what happened. It is where "The Deep End of the Ocean" is a let down and frankly I have watched TV movies which do a better job of delving in to the situation whilst also the consequences and trauma of the events.

But what "The Deep End of the Ocean" has which most TV movie don't is money and with money you get more time to fine tune scenes and employ a better calibre of actors although Treat Williams will certainly be familiar to those who enjoy TV movies. But the star of "The Deep End of the Ocean" is Michelle Pfeiffer and in a character which for me lacks development she does a good job of bringing the emotion of the situation to the fore from the feeling of emptiness when she returns home as the reminders of Ben are there to the level of depression which engulfs her whole body as she doesn't even want to get out of bed.

What this all boils down to is that on one hand "The Deep End of the Ocean" is a good movie yet it is also disappointing because as a big screen movie I expected more than what I would get from a TV movie other than bigger stars and a bigger production.