Lifetime Movie 16 and Missing Provides Further Evidence That Teenagers Are the Worst
Last night's movie 16 and Missing proved three things. One, apparently not all bad things happen when you're 17; some also happen a year earlier. Two, it really helps to have a former FBI agent for a mom. And three, teenagers are the absolute worst.
We begin the story in a flashback. FBI agent Julia (Ashley Scott) is saying goodbye to her husband and her young daughter Abbey before she boards a plane Casablanca-style. She does this while wearing the fakest fake ponytail I've ever seen. From certain angles you're like, “Oh, what a nice short haircut,” and then she turns her head and everything you've ever known comes into question.
On the way home from dropping Julia off, her husband and daughter are involved in a traumatic event that ends with the husband dead and the daughter growing up to be the biggest teenage brat I've ever witnessed on this network. But we'll learn more about that later.
Ten years pass and Julia has finally decided to get rid of that damn ponytail. She's also decided to give her daughter Abbey (Lizze Broadway) a car for her 16th birthday. This is a bad decision for two reasons. One, now she has a way to run away from home to see her online boyfriend. Two, SHE IS THE WORST. A few hours after receiving said brand new car, she screams at her mom and her stepfather and her two step-siblings about how much she hates them before storming up to her room with her friend Janelle.
Let me tell you a bit about Janelle, who's played by Stella Hudgens, aka Vanessa Hudgens' sister, which I did not know while watching but which makes her spooky resemblance to Vanessa a lot less spooky. Janelle is my favorite character in this movie. She's the exception to my “teenagers are the worst” rule. After Abbey screams at her parents, Janelle is like, “Umm, I'm uncomfortable. I'm gonna go.” But she ends up sticking around for a few minutes to tell Abbey that her 24-year-old online boyfriend Gavin, who she's been talking to for two years, is probably a creeper. Abbey doesn't want friends who question her stupid decisions, so she kicks Janelle out.
After sending a few chats back and forth which were way too small for me to read (I don't have a big screen TV, Lifetime — how about a closeup once in a while?), Abbey and Gavin plan to meet up the next day in Arizona, where he apparently works as a cop (insert laughter). So after her parents are asleep, Abbey sneaks out and drives away from home. After a while she stops on the side of the road and shouts “I'm gonna be happy!” to the wind like a crazy person, but then she keeps driving.
When Julia discovers that Abbey is gone, she asks Janelle if she knows anything, and Janelle tells them about Gavin. Julia doesn't believe that her daughter could have possibly been talking to a boy online for two years, so Janelle, ever reasonable, points out that Abbey has a laptop and phone that her parents never check. Janelle's mother, who apparently just discovered that teenagers use computers for more than just homework, tells her daughter, “No more laptop in the bedroom,” to which Janelle gives an eye roll. I LOVE YOU, JANELLE!
They need to get into Abbey's chat account to find out where she went. Janelle says she doesn't have her password for that, but she does have the one for her email, and then she shows them how to use the “Forgot password?” trick. The parents act like she just hacked into the CIA's server. Upon seeing Gavin's photo, Janelle's mother comments, “He looks like a nice kid.” Lady, how clueless can you get?
Conveniently, Julia is owed a favor by a guy in Missing Persons at the FBI, because of course she is. While he gets to work looking into the boyfriend, she heads out to catch up with Abbey and Gavin in Arizona, stopping along the way to pick up a bunch of guns from a guy in a cowboy hat. She apparently needs an M16 for this, because #Amurrica.
Meanwhile, Abbey meets up with Gavin (Mark Hapka) and notices that he looks older than his online pictures. What she apparently doesn't notice is that he's a total creeper who compares them to Romeo and Juliet and calls her wise beyond her years. He also gives her a bullshit reason for not having his patrol car on his day off. Still, she falls for all of it. “You know me so well,” she says when he gets her fries from a fast food place. EVERYONE LIKES FRENCH FRIES, DUMBASS.
Gavin opens up to Abbey about his father being murdered by his partner and his mother dying of a broken heart — or cancer, more accurately. Abbey tells Gavin about what happened to her own father. Apparently they were kidnapped that night we saw at the start of the movie. She got away, but the kidnapper killed her father. In the flashback, the killer is hooded and wearing sunglasses and a beard. Gee, I wonder who he could be.
What's that? The guy from the FBI is calling Julia to tell her that Gavin was chatting with Abbey from prison? Wow, I would have never expected that. (Side note, this is exactly what happened in another Lifetime movie called The Boy She Met Online. Wow, if Janelle can't have any privacy, why do prisoners get it?) Oh, and did I forget to mention that Gavin isn't his real name? He's actually named Wesley Sherman, which just happens to be the name of Julia's former partner, aka his father.
Meanwhile, Gavin/Wesley (Real talk: of all the fake names to choose, you choose Gavin?) and Abbey are hanging out at his house. He uses every line in the creepy guy book to try to get her to have sex with him. He even tells her they don't need protection because you can't get pregnant the first time. Despite seeming to believe him, because sex ed in this country needs some serious improvements, Abbey insists they wait.
Later that night, Abbey notices that Gavin/Wesley has sent a text to her mom saying she'll be home soon. She also sees that he has an envelope from prison, and that his driver's license says his name is Wesley. Also that the name Wesley is all over his room. Wow, he did not prepare for this at all, did he? Upon finally realizing that he's not who he says he is, Abbey runs away from him, but instead of getting in her car and driving away, she goes into the bushes so we can have an obvious parallel to the time she hid from him ten years ago. He still catches her.
Julia receives a text from Gavin/Wesley about where to meet him to get her daughter back. When she gets there, she tells him that she had no choice but to kill his father, because he went bad. “You went bad,” she says to Wesley Sr. in a flashback while wearing what looks like an FBI costume from a Halloween store (complete with ponytail).
Gavin/Wesley doesn't believe her and holds a gun to Abbey's head. Abbey tries to talk him out of it by saying what a beautiful man he is on the inside and saying that she knows he loves her. “I don't love you!” he shouts, before getting his hand bitten by Abbey and then being shot by Julia. “I love you!” he says as he lies injured on the ground. Nice try, buddy. Julia finishes him off, and they all live happily ever after.
Okay, but I have a few questions. One, did we never establish why Gavin/Wesley was in prison? It obviously wasn't for killing Abbey's father, so was it just something unrelated and random? Two, how old was he when he killed her father? He said he was 24 in the present, but I think I heard someone at the end declare him to be 26. I guess he could have been 16 and wearing a disguise. And lastly, why the hell does Janelle still want to be friends with Abbey? Raise your standards, girl.