When He Didn't Come Home (1998) (aka: The Disappearing Act) starring Patty Duke, Kelly Rowan, Robert Floyd, Rosemary Dunsmore, Dave Nichols, Karen Glave, John Bourgeois directed by Paul Schneider Movie Review

When He Didn't Come Home (1998)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Patty Duke in When He Didn't Come Home (1998) (aka The Disappearing Act)

In Search of Timmy

Timmy Dolan (Robert Floyd) had always been close to his parents Fay (Patty Duke - One Woman's Courage) and Michael (Dave Nichols) but he decides that he needs to step out on his own and so movies to Chicago where he meets and falls for Carolyn Blair (Kelly Rowan - The Ultimate Sin), a dominant businesswoman. Despite being aware that Timmy and Carolyn's relationship had its issues they accept things when Timmy announces they are getting engaged. But sometime after the announcement Fay has a premonition that something isn't right and decides to try and get in touch with Timmy except she is unable to locate him with Carolyn saying she hasn't heard from him for a few weeks. Determined to get in touch with her son Fay heads to Chicago and relying on Carolyn and her family's help except she begins to notice that Carolyn's story is inconsistent.

"When He Didn't Come Home" which is also known as "The Disappearing Act" is yet another one of those TV movies from the 90s which are inspired by a true story. Now with that in mind I had better say now there rest of this review of "When He Didn't Come Home" contains spoilers but only spoilers for those who are unaware of the true story on which it is based upon.

Kelly Rowan in When He Didn't Come Home (1998) (aka The Disappearing Act)

Now "When He Didn't Come Home" is simple enough as it starts with Fay having a premonition of her son Timmy in the living room and then the next day calling Carolyn to try and speak to her son only to learn she hasn't heard from him for a few weeks. It then leaps back 6 months and takes us through how we get there from Timmy leaving home to start a new life in Chicago where he not only meets and falls for attractive realtor Carolyn but regularly calls home to speak to his parents. It is all pretty regular but establishes the relationship between Timmy and Carolyn with her being dominant and controlling whilst also the closeness to his parents especially his mum.

The second half of the movie then tackles Fay trying to track down her son and becoming suspicious of Carolyn and her family as her story keeps on changing. I won't go into the details of what transpires but if you have watched other TV movies from the 90s you can pretty much work out how things will play out. That is the thing about "When He Didn't Come Home" it is despite being based on a true story a 90s TV movie and has the style and narrational arc which is typical of TV movies from the era.

What "When He Didn't Come Home" has going for it are good performances and some depth which brings the story to life. Those good performances reliably come from Patty Duke and Kelly Rowan but the depth presents itself from are encounters with Carolyn's family as Timmy witnesses her hen pecked father being hit by her mother. This in turn provides the depth to explain why Carolyn is the way she is towards Timmy and Rowan certainly brings the nasty side of her character to life.

What this all boils down to is that "When He Didn't Come Home" has an interesting story which turns the tables with an abusive woman abusing her partner instead of the usual other way around. But stylistically this is a movie which is typical of the 90s TV movie genre and as such plays out in a familiar manner.