I've been searching for this film for years. Lifetime failed me, ditto Amazon and Netflix. I begin to wonder if I would ever be able see the movie version of one of my favorite books. Be careful what you wish for. There's a very good reason this film still languishes in the VHS hell in our modern age of DVD.
Let's start with the movie's length. The producers of the film inexplicably crammed both Face On The Milk Carton and Whatever Happened To Janie into a two hour format. Not even two hours, it originally aired on national television, so a half hour consisted of commercials.
Can a film be too rushed and overly drawn out at once? This film can. Barely a minute after the film starts Janie finds her picture on the milk carton. In less than half an hour, Janie learns about Hannah and the cult and then the film grinds to a halt. Reading about Janie agonizing over whether to contact the people looking for her is better than having to watch it.
The second part where she returns to her family is considerably better. Richard Masur plays her biological father. I have an unexplainable crush on him dating back to My Girl in '91. I'll watch anything with him in it. The movie has some awesome casting including Sharon Lawrence and Richard Herrman.
You probably noticed that I did not include Kellie Martin who plays Janie. The reason: As good as an actress she is, she just isn't who I pictured as Janie. Janie struck me a normal, average girl next door type. Kellie unfortunately brings to Janie the same nervous, precocious, energy she brings to all her roles. If Juno had been released ten years earlier, she would have been a shoo-in for the role. But Juno is no Janie.
Also, Janie looks nothing like her siblings. A big deal in both the book and movie is how she looks so much like her other siblings.This is not how I pictured Janie when I read the book.
Awesome casting, the actors actually look like brother and sister. But Janie looks nothing like them no matter what the film wants you to believe. She doesn't even have the same shade of red as her mother and siblings do.
The story would have been better off as a four hour miniseries. It would've given the film more time for plot and character development, both missing from the movie version. I am both glad to have finally seen the film but disappointed in how it was handled.