After Beth Cappadora, wife and mother, loses her middle son in a crowded hotel reception, she fears he is gone forever. Nine years later there's a knock on the door and a boy identical to Ben appears. Is this he little boy? Did Sam's (or Ben's) adoptive father George swipe him?
It's all very well asking an audience to suspend disbelief, but when there's a coincidence the size of a juggernaut driving through the narrative of your sappy familial drama, it becomes a pretty tall order. If, however, you can swallow the premise here, this movie - adapted from a best-selling novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard - makes for decent, if unremarkable, viewing.
Pfeiffer is Beth Cappadora, a mother juggling her career, three young kids and a marriage with husband Pat (Williams). Returning to her high school reunion, she loses middle child Ben in the crowded hotel reception and, as hours turn to days, Beth and her family must come to terms with the fact that he is gone forever.
Cut to nine years later, when a knock at the door of the Cappadora's house reveals a boy called Sam who lives with his adopted father George (John Kapelos), and looks disturbingly like Ben. Have the Cappadoras found their little boy? Did George swipe him? And can the filmmakers possibly cram any more twists into one film?
The fundamental problem here is the page to screen transfer. A richly textured book has been squeezed into less than two hours, and hundreds of different story strands are touched upon but rarely explored. In trying to deal with so many big issues, the result is a movie that manages only to skate briefly over all. On the sob front, there are simply not enough tears for this to be a real weepie, and ultimately the plot moves about so much that not even Pfeiffer's charm and considerable ability are enough to make it believable. She is, however, convincing as the loving mother, and if there's a saving grace it's in strong performances all-round, with newcomer Jackson particularly making an impression, combining laidback charm with an underlying intensity as the Cappadora's eldest son Vincent.
In trying to deal with so many big issues, the result is a movie that manages only to skate briefly over all.