Who is this awful kid Jason Bateman that he should be starring in a TV movie, as well as a TV series? How and when, exactly, did America pick its new crop o' stars? Was there some sort of intricate, arcane caucus system involved? Is it too late for a recall election?

Young Bateman, who appears weekly on NBC's "Valerie's Family," appears weakly tonight, at 8:30 on Channel 4, in NBC's "Moving Target," a moderately acceptable mystery thriller that he ambles through shaggily and draggily, as if it were a nuisancey trip to the 7-Eleven for cigarettes and beer.

Whatever the opposite of galvanizing is, that's what this smirking little shlub brings to the film.

The script by Andy Tennant and Edward Hunsaker isn't bad. Seventeen-year-old Toby Kellogg is sent off to music camp for eight weeks by his parents. He leaves camp early to return home and discovers that everyone has moved -- mom, dad, sis, brother and the family dog. The furniture is gone and there is no forwarding address or phone number.

Unfortunately for the sake of audience involvement, the family when together seems so cold and joyless, and the son so minimally a part of it, that you wonder if the sudden separation would really be noticed by any of them. Bateman doesn't convey any urgency or passion in attempting to locate the folks.

It evolves that the U.S. attorney's office has men out looking for the kid, but so does the Mob, which figures in the drama, and a chillingly efficient bounty hunter, well played by Jack Wagner. One of Toby's friends is mistaken for him and taken to a hill overlooking Hollywood by the hit man.

When the killer pulls out a gun, the boy pleads for his life this way: "What are you doing, man? Put that thing away, man! What is this, man?" Who says they can't write good dialogue any more, huh, man?

Director Chris Thomson generates a smattering of suspense, but the script takes detours that slow it down. And, of course, there's the credibility problem. If they'd hired an actual actor for the lead role, a viewer might be able to feel some slight inclination to give a hoot.