I crawled into bed with my laptop last Sunday evening, sick and ready to cuddle up with a good Lifetime Movie on Hulu. I chose "Long Lost Son," perhaps because of its dramatic title with overt familiar undertones, but more likely because it stars Gabrielle Anwar, who you may remember as the woman with the scent in "Scent of a Woman," but who I will always remember as Sonora, the blind girl who rides horses off high-dives in the 1991 Disney classic "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken." (you had to be there. and 10.)
I'm sorry to say that I'm very glad I caught this flick on Hulu, where I could fast forward through its numerous boring parts. It has such a tasty description (and trailer!): "Fourteen years ago, Karen (Gabrielle Anwar) lost her son when her estranged husband took him for the weekend and went sailing in a dangerous storm. Though both father and son were presumed lost at sea, Karen glimpses their faces in a vacation video." But after a disappointing "omg my son is alive!" scene, it takes more than 20 minutes of film time for her to reunite with her son. In addition to the usual Lifetime Movie delusion of a protagonist who doesn't call the cops when any sane person would, no one informs Gabrielle about express passport service, and so a large part of the movie flounders in a plotline about her getting to St. Lucia (where the husband and kid are) without the proper papers.
If you insist on watching this movie, fast forward to about the middle, once a hot teenage kid with his shirt off appears (do not press stop for the amiable Australian guy). I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't realize this is Chase Crawford, in his first-ever role, until I looked the movie up on IMDB. He plays Matthew (formerly "Little Marky"), Gabrielle's long lost son, and thus begins the incredibly awkward mother-long lost son flirtation that lasts the rest of the movie.
Chase's father (Gabrielle's ex) is conveniently away on a trip, and has left his virile, just barely 18-year-old son in charge of their tourist charter boat. After creepily stalking him for a couple of days, Gabrielle finally confronts him. Maybe it's because he's tanned and muscular from so much time out on the sea, but she doesn't tell him that she's his mother and that she thought he was dead for the last 14 years. Instead, she books a trip on the charter.
What follows are many romantic scenes of mother and unknowing son exploring the exotic seas. And before you call me perverse for reading all this chemistry into a movie that clearly isn't supposed to have any, let me point out that no smoking-hot 18-year-old whose dad is away is going to spend all his time showing a woman how to SCUBA dive unless he wants to bone her! He even catches her a crayfish to eat over a lunchtime fire on the beach (and yes, she's wearing a skimpy bikini). She has such a good time that she books a second day with him on the boat and goes to sleep hugging herself in happiness, unworried about the fact that she told a friend of her ex's who she was and why she's on the island.
When the friend calls the ex-husband and he instructs his kid to get the hell out of there, Gabrielle enlists the help of her husband (oh yeah, did I mention she's married?) and the Australian to help her find her son before Hurricane Eduardo (oh yeah, did I mention there's a hurricane coming?) hits the area.
The scene is set for a dramatic reunion when Gabrielle steals a boat and motors out to where her former husband and their son are hiding out. I finally stopped fast-forwarding again and was rewarded for my quick-clicking when Gabrielle burst onto the boat yelling "you bastard!" and attacked her husband. But then the name-calling stops in less than 10 seconds. She sits down on the boat and says, "He's a good kid." The husband agrees, and when said good kid shows up moments later, Gabrielle still doesn't blurt out, "I'm your mother and your father has been lying to you for the last 14 years and I thought you were dead." Instead, the dad calmly informs the son that Gabrielle isn't an IRS agent like he'd said, she is his mother. He then sends them off to talk together on the beach while he fixes the boat's radio. YES, REALLY.
As they walk along the beach (practically hand-in-hand, of course), Matthew expresses no anger or confusion as to why his dad took him away or why his mom hadn't found him until then. Perhaps he's too busy being nauseated that he wanted to bone his own mother, but pretty much all he says is, "It musta been hard for ya" before staring into her eyes and hugging her tight. Their passionate embrace is interrupted by Dad/ex-husband, who announces that the hurricane is on its way and they have to go back to the main island to safety. But oh no! Gabrielle and son are worried about the dad getting in trouble with the law, because even though he took her kid away from her, she wouldn't want him to get in trouble for it or anything. So Gabrielle and Chase go back to St. Lucia and their fucked-up relationship and the dad takes the boat Gabrielle stole and motors off into the sunset.
Of course, they hadn't actually gotten divorced yet before he took the kid and so he wasn't necessarily a non-custodial parent and she wouldn't even have to testify against him if she didn't want to, but whatever. This was one of the worst Lifetime Movies I have ever seen, and I don't think it could have even been saved by an unforeseen blinding accident and a horse jumping off a high-dive.