Did you watch the new Lifetime movie Gone Missing last night? If you did, can we please shake hands through the computer and agree that it was the most anticlimactic Lifetime movie ever? We’re all in a agreement? Good, now we can get to talking about everything that led up to that enormous letdown.
The movie’s about a couple of teenage girls who go on a Spring Break vacation to San Diego with their very different moms. Matty (Gage Golightly) is party girl, as displayed by her heart-shaped sunglasses and propensity for making out with nerds in the bathtub at parties. Kaitlin (Brigette Davidovici) is her smart, sensible best friend – or so we’re led to believe. Matty’s mother Lisa (Lauren Bowles) takes the following approach to parenting: “Here are some condoms, good luck! I’m off to flirt with frat boys in my LuAnn de Lesseps-size necklace. What are you doing tonight? Shut up, I don’t care!” On the other hand, Kaitlin’s mother Rene (Daphne Zuniga) takes this approach: “Text me whenever you do anything. Like when you cross or uncross your legs or have to use the bathroom. Text me about it. And wear more clothes. Wear as many clothes as possible. AND TEXT ME!” It’s clear that Lisa has tagged along to party and Rene has tagged along to make sure her daughter doesn’t go missing. As you can tell from the title, that plan works really well. I should also mention that Kaitlin’s younger brother Kennedy (Nicholas R. Grava) is also in tow. He spends the first part of the movie practicing his Seth Cohen impersonation and the second part of the movie acting as a walking, talking hug for Rene, slash being my favorite character.
When Kaitlin fails to text her mom the following: “hey fyi im at the pool with a coupla guys i dont kno drinking alcohol, lol” you can imagine how freaked out Rene is when she sees that exact thing happening. She asks Kaitlin what she’s drinking and Kaitlin says it’s virgin, but Rene tastes it and discovers she’s lying. Well, she’s not the only one who lied, because Rene asked what was in the glass when it was clearly in a red plastic cup. So somebody’s quite the hypocrite. Nevertheless, Rene grounds Kaitlin. ON SPRING BREAK?! So Kaitlin and, by the lame bonds of friendship, Matty, are confined to their boring hotel room where they have nothing to do but order movies and room service. Okay, what exactly is the problem here? That sounds like heaven. As a total homebody, if I were in this movie it would be even more anticlimactic than it already is because it would involve me watching Clueless, eating cake and falling asleep at 10.
The next morning, after Rene wakes up from a dream about Kaitlin drowning (Ugh, I thought I already watched Dangerous Intuition), the moms discover that the girls aren’t in their room. Rene asks Kennedy to explain what happened the night before. Let the flashbacks begin! Matty and Kaitlin decided it was way too boring in their room, so they planned to go visit some guy who it turns out is the whole reason Kaitlin wanted to go to San Diego. But before they did that they kicked Kennedy out, so he has no idea what happened to them and is therefore not a helpful witness anymore. Thanks, Ken! The moms question one of the frat guys who were with the girls at the pool, and when he’s not slapping a hungover dude in the face to wake him up, he tells them the girls went to a club.
At the club, the bouncer says he saw the girls the night before and had to kick Matty out for being a party girl. Matty and Kaitlin walked right out of that club and directly into a car belonging to two strange men. At this point you’re thinking, here’s the kidnapping that’s so obviously going to happen in this movie. Hold your horses. There are a lot of letdowns to get through.
The GPS on Matty’s phone traces her to Tijuana, at which point I was like, uh oh, bad things happen there. Just ask Marissa Cooper (second O.C. reference of the recap, you’re welcome). Meanwhile, Kaitlin’s dad is trying to get a flight out, but he’s stuck in “rural China,” so that doesn’t end up happening. Leave it to Lifetime to show a movie on Father’s Day weekend where the father’s never seen because he’s stuck in a foreign country. That should be their new slogan: “My dad can’t fly in. He’s stuck in rural China.”
The moms get word that an unidentified girl has shown up at the border, and they rush to see if it’s one of their daughters. On the outside, they’re like, “Whichever daughter this is, we’re still gonna stick together,” but you can tell on the inside they’re like, “This better me my kid, damnit.” It turns out to be Matty, who walked 15 miles and looks traumatized. So many things went through my head as a viewer. Were they kidnapped? Did Matty have to fight her way to safety? Is Kaitlin dead?! WHY ISN’T MATTY SAYING ANYTHING?!
The gist of Matty’s sobby story is basically just that Kaitlin got out of the scary car and Matty was a terrible friend and left her on the side of the road. Matty got away from the scary guys by bravely waltzing out of their house when she didn’t want to be there anymore. And then even though the moms said they’d help each other, Lisa is like, “Um, so now that my daughter’s okay, I’m just gonna tell you that this is all your daughter’s fault and check out of the resort. Hope you find your kid!” Luckily Matty has some remorse for what she did and convinces her mom they should stay.
The rest of Kaitlin’s story is a series of anticlimaxes. She gets on a bus driven by a creepy man named Willy (come on, that’s pretty creepy) who ends up leaving her on the side of the road again when she gets out to help a drunk guy who turns out to be the very guy she’s been sleeping with and came there to see, and also the guy who was passed out in the frat boys’ room earlier in the film. He throws her over his shoulder caveman style and you think he’s going to do something horrible, but he just leaves her on the beach and stumbles back to the resort. This whole movie is just Kaitlin getting carried places and then being left there until she eventually falls off a rock and breaks her leg trying to get the perfect shot of the sunrise to use as her alibi. Yeah, that’s all that happens.
But really. That’s the whole reason she’s missing? She made some stupid decisions and then was clumsy? What a letdown. This is a Lifetime movie, not a PSA against wearing wedge sandals. Of course Rene uses the power of remembered dialogue to find her daughter and get her rescued. The moral of this story? Just stay in and watch a movie. Although they’re kind of preaching to the choir, since everyone who watched this movie had already made that very smart decision.