Last night Lifetime premiered their movie Missing at 17. This is not to be confused with Seventeen and Missing or Gone Missing or any other Lifetime movie with the word “missing” or the number seventeen in the title (and that’s a lot). This is surprisingly only the second “at 17” Lifetime movie I’ve reviewed, and the last one was almost a year ago. Since my review of Stalked at 17 outlined the many lessons I learned while watching – all seventeen of them – I thought I’d carry on the tradition and do the same here. I’ll take these lessons with me for the rest of my life. Or at least for a couple of days.
1. Just because a movie opens with a mom finding her daughter’s dead body getting thrown out of a van and then reads “two days earlier” does not mean that event will ever actually happen in the timeline of the film. This is how the movie starts, after a homeless man tells a riddle, but halfway through the film it turns out to be the mom’s dream and then is never mentioned again, because making sense is at the bottom of this film’s priority list.
2. If both your parents’ eyes are blue but yours are brown, you best believe you’re adopted. Candace (Ayla Kell) learns this the hard way in science class, and she’s so upset she yells that her teacher is a liar and storms out of the room. Educators really need to consider this when planning their genetics lessons.
3. If your child is adopted, don’t wait seventeen years to let her know. Because she’ll probably find out about the whole eye color thing and ask you point blank while you’re trying to make dinner. This is how Shannon (Tricia O’Kelley) has to break the news to her daughter. I’m sure that teacher will be getting a strongly worded letter.
4. Always wear waterproof mascara, just in case you find out you’re adopted and run away in tears. When Candace learns that she’s not her parents’ biological kid, she gets in her car and drives away with mascara running down her face, yelling that Shannon isn’t her mother. Well, that escalated quickly.
5. It’s not at all creepy for an adult man to buy a teenage girl vodka and then drive her home with him. Oh wait, yes it is. This is how Candace meets her new boyfriend Toby (Ben Gavin) outside a liquor store. After she asks him to light her cigarette, of course. Girl, you are wearing a pencil skirt and a Lauren Conrad braid. Stop trying to be badass.
6. If the guy you went home with suggests you should “chillax,” it’s probably better just to go back to your adoptive parents. Toby assures Candace he’s not going to rape her (what a gentleman) and then puts some reggae on. If the fact that he looks 30 wasn’t enough reason to leave, this should be.
7. If your new boyfriend just says he’s a “business man,” that’s a red flag. Over breakfast, Toby gives Candace vague answers about what he does for a living, saying he gives people loans. Once again, the fact that he’s old enough to be asked what he does is enough reason to run away, but this really solidifies it.
8. Brandi Glanville will never be convincing as anything but Brandi Glanville, no matter how many pairs of glasses you put on her. Yes, Brandi Glanville is in this movie as a woman who hired Shannon to do makeup on her movie set. She is very upset that Shannon has to find her missing child instead of working. It was hard to tell how upset she was, however, because her face muscles wouldn’t cooperate.
9. If your teenage daughter runs away from home, just wait around for a day until she comes back to retrieve clothes. Once Candace has decided that she wants to shack up with her adult boyfriend, she drives home to grab some clothes, because apparently the “missing” in this title was just an outright lie. She just barely dodges her mom before driving away with a enough clothes for her new illegal romance.
10. When going downtown to sell a stolen motorcycle, be sure to bring your West Side Story knife. This is what Toby does before he sells his cousin’s bootleg bike. He also makes sure to flip it open dramatically before leaving the house, just in case he needs to rumble.
11. Always keep your seatbelt on if you’re a missing teenager and/or a wanted criminal, because otherwise a cop might see you unbuckle it with his superhuman vision. Candace unbuckles her belt to kiss Toby on the cheek, which leads to them being immediately pulled over. They’re taken into the station because Toby didn’t show up for a DUI charge. This is how Candace ends up back with her parents. Womp womp.
12. It’s probably best to walk your delinquent daughter directly into class instead of dropping her off out front and assuming she won’t sneak away. Candace’s dad — who doesn’t really want to be there in the first place since he walked out on his family two years ago — thinks it’s sufficient to watch her walk in and then immediately drive off. Typical Lifetime dad.
13. If you find out you’re adopted, prepare yourself psychologically for the fact that your biological brother could be extremely attractive. Candace hires a PI (with Toby’s money) to find her birth mother. He shows her a photo of her brother Vance (Micah Alberti) with no context. If it were me, I’d ask, “Who’s that sexy creature?” Then things would get awkward.
14. When your daughter is missing, be sure to ask your young son if he knows how to track her cell phone calls. The whole movie, Candace’s little brother offers to help, and when Shannon finally lets him, he shows her how to use their cell phone account to see her activity. Apparently this information couldn’t be offered without permission.
15. If your mom is an ungrateful drunk, don’t wait until your biological sister shows up to finally move out. Candace’s appearance prompts her birth mom to get sober, which really pisses off Vance, who’s had to deal with her drunkenness for years. He probably should have moved out already, though, since he has a nice girlfriend who wants to live with him. And he’s an adult and stuff.
16. Keep the windows locked, lest creepy men sneak in and shoot your age-inappropriate boyfriend to death. Toby and his cousin go on some sort of heist that wasn’t really clear to me. The cousin ends up shot, and their friend Pedro who hasn’t been mentioned before this is killed. The shooter follows them home and kills Toby. Candace then mourns the creepy lover she’s known for two days. Am I supposed to be sad here? I don’t even know anymore.
17. Remember when you’re giving your baby up for adoption that you’ll eventually have to spoon salsa at her 18th birthday party anyway. Candace’s birth mom shows up to her birthday party with a cake as flat as a pancake, and Shannon immediately asks her to help serve the food. You just can’t escape it.