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God this was just horrible! everything about it... the acting, the script,
the characters... I just couldn't decide what was more laughable, the
unbelievably dumb 16 year old, (yes some teens are innocent and gullible,
but not to that level!!), the internet-geek who "never goes out of his
house" and voluntarily gives a hell of a laptop to some woman he never met
before, or the mom who didn't know anything about computers, but learned 'it
all' in a couple of, umm, minutes? Not to mention Ted McGinley AKA Jefferson
Darcy as the big bad scary hacker guy...
Other than that you just gotta love movies about comps and "the net" made by people who know absolutely nothing about it (except for various textbook quotes)... There were so many holes and misinformation in this movie I couldn't even begin writing about it...
But in any case, to all worried computer-illiterate parents: unless your teenage daughter suffers from major brain damage, you don't have anything to worry about... but if she does, disconnect the internet and let her watch TV instead... cheers :)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Watching this movie was tantamount to kicking myself in the chest, but
only at times. I was expecting Jordan Ladd (as Martha Hoagland) to be
blonde, but turns out the cheeky little skirt was pulling a brown
streak! Good for her, she looks better that way. I'm getting tired of
all these post-teenage (Ladd was 23 at the time) peroxide wonders
popping up left, right, center and sub-woofer with their yellow heads
thinking they're something special, you know? I'd say it lifted the
movie, if not the cinematography. I'd rather work with a brunette.
This movie is about a teenage girl who--in lieu of a stable, all-American family situation and Home--drifts far into the devilish and subhuman Internet chat room pits of hell. Don't ask me why, but somehow the poor girl manages to enter some sort of secret, hermetic chat room only for the initiated (apparently she's the first one from her high school ever to enter; props and kudos her way along with a balloon/flower arrangement and a card that says "XOXO" on it, if you know what I'm hinting at and I'm pretty dang sure you do, 'cause who wouldn't, eh?) and as I'm sure anyone would've guessed back in '98 (the year of our Lord) the only people in there are 25+ year-old white heterosexual males looking for tender prey, something to sink their dirty teeth into, the other white meat, just a good old sorta good time, see.
Poor Martha gets sucked into the proverbial pedo-sexual vacuum cleaner of a Mr. Drew Pederson, stutteringly portrayed by a pale, almost comatose Vincent Gale. Pederson, being as prudent as a drunken man dressed in a pterodactyl outfit running around at an NRA meeting screaming, "The times they are a-changin'!" immediately discloses his full name and address to the young girl, who under promise of some rock concert travels halfway across the nation to meet up, several days after the concert is over. Gale's character mentions this as they meet for the first time, amidst shifty eyes and all-round shady behavior. Did I mention he's doing all this under the supervision and guidance of "Scanman," who turns out to be Jefferson from "Married... with children," whose occupation is the online auctioning of kidnapped children to other psychopathic child molesters all over the place? This is key.
So anyway... Gale keeps Ladd prisoner in his house as soon as he finds out she's underage, even though he hasn't even molested her yet. Trying to brew up some sort of plan, he contacts Jefferson who tells him to meet up somewhere along the highway where shady deals are made and kidnapped children swapped for wads of dough and backpacks full of cocaine. Like a child molesting kidnapper would, Jefferson soon puts Gale out of business with the flick of a knife, and brings Ladd to his house where he video tapes her for his child auction site, which is riddled with animated GIFs and < blink > (w3c hates you, Jefferson!) like you'd think. (Cheggit, I'm rhyming and the bells are chiming, I looked in the mirror and I saw Michael Nyman!) "Where should we start the bidding?" says this hunk of a man, "I think we'll say $200!" Since computers can be used for anything these days, Martha's mother (played by Ladd's mother, believe it or not, I don't really care which you choose at this point in my life, I have delved far too deep into self-decrepetating nihilism and self-loathing and other stuff that starts with "self," like self-help books and shelf-life. Scratch the last one, Betty, I'm getting tipsy off this bottle of Old Crow) gets help from a hermit computer geek who tracks down ol' Jefferson somehow, and she's off and suddenly I dozed off for a moment and woke up to what I thought was a full-fledged Charles Bronson scorcher! Cue all sorts of shooting and smashed windows and the mother arriving in a car and the door is locked but somehow a police officer shoots Jefferson straight in the ol' Gulliver through a sixth story window (yes, what I just said!) and now we're bloody well talking! Had this movie started with blood-soaked action and guns and knives and all this goodness I might've not thought I was a miniature model of a sailboat and stuffed myself into a bottle of bourbon. You know how it is, or you don't! I'm trying to figure out some way to end this review on a good note, even a high note or a C or something like that, you know, like the high C in "Loving you," see, but I have ill-lit downtown streets to prowl...
I give it a six!
After watching this predictable, made-for-TV film about technophobia and the internet I was puzzled about what message the movie intended to impart to its audience. Is the internet a bad ersatz form of communication, replacing familial bonds or is it a gateway to a better world? Do high-flying career women and divorces go hand in hand? Do children need their mothers at all times? What is the role of the father? This movie throws all these questions in the air as a hidden agenda, and refuses to answer any. Many questions are left unanswered: how will the daughter cope after her ordeal? Will the mother get her top job back? Will the family unit be reunited? By refusing to adopt any position, this movie is a failed exercise in sociological analysis - yes, that was not its intention, but why raise these issues and then abandon them?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The story behind this movie is one that is sadly all too common in
today's society, young people being preyed upon on the internet. It
does an overall good job of showing just how dangerous the internet can
be for youngsters but lacks something when it comes to reality in other
I found myself laughing more than once due to various scenes just being out right silly, if you know anything about computers you will likely find yourself shaking your head more than a few times during the course of this movie. The performances by the actors are pretty good, but some of the situations said acting takes place in are again, laughable and unbelievable. They could have done much better had they focused less on dramatics and focused more on what would likely happen in such an event. A word to parents, educate your children about the dangers of the internet and supervise them online, this will prevent such problems from happening to your child and your family.
For those curious, here were my main problems with this movie:
***SPOILERS*** OK, so mommy tracks her little girl down to the bad guy's warehouse where she is being held captive, and of course, it's right at the moment her daughter is about to be murdered by mr. bad guy. Her daughter breaks out a window and begins screaming for help, and who happens to be driving down that lonely alley at that moment? MOMMY! We get a finale that I suppose was supposed to be filled with tension but wasn't because since everything else up to this point had been predictable and unrealistic, you just knew mommy and daughter would escape just fine.
Before this exciting ending we have scenes of mommy getting away with stuff that no civilian would be allowed to do when it comes to police work/being involved with the police. Sorry, I don't care how much of a powerful woman you are or how much you want to find your child, there are rules; had the director/writers thought of this it would have made the movie much better, I would have been approving of their accuracy instead of rolling my eyes.
Not a lot of reason to watch this unless you are curious to see hotty
Cheryl Ladd work with her daughter, hotty Jordan Ladd, or are
interested in seeing if Ted McGinley can act against type as the brainy
yet sick bad guy in this one. If anything, Cheryl showed me that
sometime since "Charlie's Angels" she actually picked up a few things
about acting and is pretty convincing, despite the weak script. The
most unbelievable thing about this is that Jordan as Martha, would seek
to find guys on the internet after her boyfriend breaks up with her. I
mean, come on, take a look! She would not be lonely for long.
Interestingly the script is the last by John Robert Bensink, and deservedly so. The dialog and story just aren't very good. I checked his other credits and he seems to have been a bit of a one trick pony, doing this same theme in "Netnapped". Don't know that one, but this one definitely is a nap inducer.
One of the reasons that I'm curious about the failure of every mother's
worst fear to reach the take-off stage and consume us is that I am a
sociologist and, it seems to me, the time has come for another wave of fear
to sweep the country. And yet, confoundingly, it hasn't
Low-carb diets, yes -- but not internet predators? Why
Both the artifacts and the sentiments are there, as this movie shows vividly. Artifacts: a mysterious gray box that Cheryl Ladd's daughter hovers over, about which Ladd knows nothing. Atmosphere: a child of 14, just finishing her growth spurt, subject to whims and a desire for independence that Ladd has never had to cope with. Put the two together and you should have the family equivalent of a UFO flap.
It isn't that attempts haven't been made to kick start the craze. This movie is an example. And lately, the last month or two, public service ads have been appearing on television advising us that one in five children receive unwanted sexual solicitations over the internet. The announcement gives the viewer a website on which to report such solicitations. The website is www.cybertip.com. If you hate your neighbor or your landlored, give cybertip.com a hit. They make it easy to squeal on people you don't like.
It's a real site and a potentially useful one too. The statistics reported, including the "one in five children" who are solicited on the internet, are based on a single but scientifically respectable survey of more than 1,500 kids aged 10 to 17, carried out by three social scientists at the University of New Hampshire.
The problem with science is that it's become such a sacred cow that any pronouncements coming from a source that uses statistics is unassailable. You can pretty much take numbers and make them sing the tune you want them to, and you can do it without lying or falsifying the data. (Believe me, I know.)
Here's an example of what I mean. It's evidently true that about one in five kids received unwanted solicitations on the internet. Actually, 19 percent. Sounds terrible, doesn't it? But it also means that 81 percent of kids regularly using the internet did NOT receive unwanted sexual solicitations.
I won't take the report apart or examine it too closely. It's not a bad study but the terms are a little vague, an unfortunate necessity in telephone surveys. Summing it up, two thirds of the kids solicited were girls, and one third were boys. Likewise, about two thirds of the people DOING the soliciting were males, while one third were females.
If I remember, about 17 percent found the sexual approaches made them uncomfortable -- about three quarters of the "uncomfortable" kids were between 10 and 14. Most of the kids were too wise to be bothered.
You have to keep in mind too that if you're 17, you're a child in this survey, and if you're 18 you're an adult. The vast majority of sexual approaches were between young males (under 25) and more mature teenage girls. In other words an 18-year-old boy asking a 17-year-old girl a clumsily phrased question about herself would be categorized as an "unwanted sexual approach."
I'll quit at this point or I'll wind up reviewing the study without getting paid to do it. You can look it up if you're curious -- as I was -- and if a little statistics aren't bothersome.
As for applying the findings of this survey to the contents of this film, it can't be done. Of the more than 1,500 kids surveyed, few of them were asked for a personal meeting with the other person. And no meetings AT ALL took place in the course of the entire year covered by the study. Let's call it, "Every Mother's Worst Fantasy."
This is a surprisingly well done and enjoyable if slightly dated made
for TV movie. Yes you can pull the plot apart if you so wish but you
can do that with any movie ever made.
A young girl goes missing and it becomes clear she has been kidnapped after meeting up with a guy she chats to over the net. It's not a far fetched scenario as there are many examples of this.
Where this film succeeds is that it keeps your interest throughout as the mother and police search for the missing girl. There are a number of tense scenes and the abuse scenes though mainly just hinted at are effective. The acting for a TV movie is pretty good with both Cheryl and Jordan Ladd putting in convincing performances.
It is no classic but compared to many TV movies this is a pretty good effort.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Spoilers. Every paranoid fantasy must have several things going for it. It must be a conspiracy -- none of this lone gunman business. It must be ubiquitous; there but for the grace of God go I or my baby. It must be aimed at innocent people, not sophisticated cynical types. They must have a kernel of truth. A few high-visibility cases on TV would help. It must be subtle, so that in the absence of evidence the belief can persist. Son of Sam had a very rich social life. A letter inserted into his mailbox backwards by the carrier conveyed a different message than one with the address facing forward. And the evil must be unmitigated, the conspirators dehumanized. Those are some of the prerequisites for a successful case of mass hysteria. Over the course of our history the scheme has worked fine for witches, Masons, Catholics, Communists, and Satanists, in that chronological order. We've been working lately on "New World Order" forces but so far that particular looniness has been confined to a fluoride-in-the-water maniac fringe. And so has the Chat Room Conspiracy aimed at our young people, designed to seduce them. This movie presents what is definitely a worst-case scenario. A beautiful, busty gullible 16-year-old meets a conspiracy of two evil men in a teen chat room. (One almost feels that anybody over the age of 20 who can sit through more than ten minutes in a teen chat room deserves some kind of reward.) One of the two conspirators entices her to leave home and fly from Illinois to Pittsburgh, where he evidently deflowers her, probably roughly, in a shabby house with the blinds drawn, and refuses to let her phone her parents. Now, however, he is stuck with a weepy underage girl and doesn't know what to do with her. The other conspirator, an older man, slimy and evil, does know what to do. He arranges a transfer, takes her to another hideaway, makes videotapes of her in the nude after drugging her with raspberry tea, and more or less puts her on an internet auction block resembling eBay. (Minimum bid, 10K.) Well, I'll tell you, things go from bad to worse. Mom is just worried sick. And with the help of a neighborhood computer geek (he wears glasses and his hair is messy) flies all over the place trying to track her daughter down. The FBI would like to help, but they class her as a runaway and can't treat it as a kidnapping. In the end, Mom locates daughter in one of those dreary almost-empty warehouses in a seedy section of Baltimore. By this time, the movie has turned into a slasher flick. The conspirator is running around giggling maniacally and waving a knife in the air until he is finally -- at the very last moment -- dispatched by the local police. The acting is all you'd expect from TV personages and novices. It was written by a committee of English majors whose grades must have averaged around C plus. And yet -- for all that -- I can't figure out why this particular craziness didn't become more popular. It had a great deal going for it. How many parents monitor what their kids are doing in chat rooms? And home computers are now all over the place, available to most people in the population, regardless of age or income. The movie was released in 1998. Four years have passed and not very much has happened. Movies like this should have given that sort of mass hysteria a good kick in the pants to get it started, but it simply didn't fly. And that's despite one or two highly publicized instances of older men being lured into arranging meetings with underage girls who turned out in the end to be overaged police officers. I would guess that it didn't become enough of a problem in the real world because kids may be vastly more sophisticated about these things than adults might like to believe. A sixteen-year-old may not be able to identify Italy on a world map but might have a built in phoniness detector when it comes to chatting on line. They can be pretty kewl. But no such logic or set of physical arrangements have stopped episodes of mass hysteria in the past. (It wasn't that long ago we had all those missing children on milk cartons.) It's possible that that anxiety is out there, though, simmering and looking for a cause, just as it was before all those preschools turned out to be nothing more than preschools, just waiting, so to speak, for some charismatic figure to step out in front of the band and cash in on it. We're about due for another wave. They seem to come and go like medieval plagues.
If you are a paranoid and ignorant of computers, your kids, minimum logic,
and reality in general, this "movie" will sweet your mind and make you
happy as a liter of drinks to an alcoholic. I am a computer engineer and
somewhat I got trapped in front of my TV watching this thing for the
computer topic. I confess I had a good time watching it, but they should
tell us it is a "comedy" not a drama. I don't have the time to go with all
details, and also there are a few fellas here that already gave us some
Of course will be people out there that see Mickey Mouse as a pervert for exposing his tail, and no question this movie will enlighten them.
Jordan Ladd proved a worthy actress in this enlightening made-for-TV
drama, which sends a message that all teenagers should adhere; never
trust internet chat-rooms.
It's a film that many parents might actually understand - the child, who is perhaps naive and a little too trusting, spending hours and hours on end on their computer, and one or both of the parents working full time and are never at home to check on what's going on. Every Mother's Worst Fear points this out quite thoroughly.
Admittedly, the story is a little clichéd, but you can't help but sympathise with Connie Hoagland (Cheryl Ladd) as she desperately tries to locate her daughter. It does work that a real-life mother and daughter were cast for such what is really a cat-and-mouse movie. It does point out that the internet is not always a good thing. 5/10
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