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On the Tube: 'Elizabeth Smart Story' makes for dumb drama

Friday, November 07, 2003

By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

CBS's "The Elizabeth Smart Story" is so dreadful, it's occasionally funny. It's the kind of movie the guys at "Mystery Science Theater 3000" would have had a lot of fun watching and commenting about.



WHEN: 9 p.m. Sunday on CBS.

STARRING: Dylan Baker


From Dylan Baker, as Ed Smart, running around the driveway in his pajamas, to Elizabeth's kidnapper, a panhandler who claims to be a man of God but tells those who don't give him money, "Burn in hell, the lot of you," there's a whole host of hokum here that's ripe for parody.

Based on the real-life story of the Utah teenager who was kidnapped and held by a religious zealot for months, "The Elizabeth Smart Story" treads the same ground as news reports about her disappearance.

Not only is "The Elizabeth Smart Story" supremely uninteresting -- except maybe for her emotional reunion with her family at the end -- it doesn't offer any revelations. It's based on accounts by the Smart family, and no doubt there are parts of their daughter's ordeal they'd prefer to keep private. That's their right, but it makes for a movie that contains nothing that hasn't been chronicled ad nauseum on the evening news. At least NBC's competing "Saving Jessica Lynch" fleshes out the story of the Iraqi man who helped rescue Lynch.

Smart's story begins with the first images of her home (it's nowhere near as big as the real thing) giving way to a creepy shot of the kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell (Tom Everett), trimming his beard. Mitchell, who calls himself Emmanuel, breaks into the Smart home by cutting a window screen and takes Elizabeth (Amber Marshall) from her bed as her sister, Mary Katherine (Hannah Lochner), watches helplessly.

Then the search begins and the agony of the family begins and the accusations begin. The Smarts disagree with the police about who took Elizabeth (the Smarts are proved right), they get duped by several members of the media and are contacted by one of Mitchell's relatives.

"He doesn't kill them, he murders their spirit and takes their soul," the woman says, sounding like she walked in from "Creepshow." Somehow that's appropriate. "The Elizabeth Smart Story" depicts a lot of creepy characters, but it's not worth watching.

Rob Owen can be reached at or 412-263-2582. Post questions or comments to under TV Forum.

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