IT'S A TRICKY thing to review "The Forgotten" without giving too much away. So here goes. It's really weird. Has its share of visceral surprises. Slightly predictable and dumb when all is said and done, but you knew that. And Julianne Moore's in it.
Okay, second try. Moore plays Telly Paretta, who is grieving for her 8-year-old son, Sam, whom she last saw when she put him on an ill-fated plane more than a year before. But lately, her psychiatrist Dr. Munce (Gary Sinise) has been telling her no such child ever existed. As for all those memories, not to mention photographs, baseball gloves and videotapes, they amount to self-delusion. She's nuts. What kid?
The strange thing is, no one else remembers Sam. Not even Telly's estranged husband, and Sam's father, Jim (Anthony Edwards). Telly runs into Ash Correll (Dominic West), a fellow parent whose daughter Lauren played with Sam in the park and who is also missing. But Ash has no memory of a daughter. And wait till Jim doesn't even remember who Telly is. Sound the "Twilight Zone" theme. And if you think I've given away too much already, check out the coming attractions reel from Sony Pictures' Revolution Studios; it's all there, all the giveaways.
Telly is a mom, a Hollywoodized mom, and those gals never quit. They fight until they find exactly what they -- and the audience -- want. So we know where things are going, in a general sense. The surprise is finding out what's going on behind the scenes; who's working the evil levers? There's another surprise in store: a CGI effect that will have the audience jumping.
What won't make the audience jump is the scenario, which consists mostly of Telly and Ash running away from men in dark suits with reckless driving skills, Telly's flashbacks of towheaded Sam in the dappled sunlight, and the hint of romance between Telly and Ash -- who has been to the gym a lot, so it seems only fair. That voodoo part of the story ends up being, well, sort of banal. The movie's so much better when you don't have a clue what's going on. People have said the same thing about life. And I can't dispute that one. Nor can I think of anything more to say.
THE FORGOTTEN (PG-13, 96 minutes) -- Contains some violence and scary effects. Area theaters.