Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story February 11, 2011Posted by H$ in 25-29, H$, taken from me: the tiffany rubin story.
You may be wondering why this review is late. Well, I’m a reproductive health care advocate, and we’ve been pretty damn busy this week. (Note: I do not work for Planned Parenthood, this was just a good summary of the issues involved.) If you want me on a regular update schedule, please call your elected representatives and tell them to get the hell up out of my legislative vagoo. Thank you.
Anyway, enough about my vagoo. Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story is a ripped-from-the-headlines melodrama about Tiffany Rubin’s son being kidnapped. It stars a manic Taraji P. Henson, and costars some guy from Lost, a bunch of stereotypical menacing Asians, and Jesus Christ.
(Sidenote: There will not be any Lost jokes in this review because I do not give ass one about Lost. Don’t watch it, don’t care. If there’s ever a bit player from an episode of Dr. Who, I’ll be all over it like a weeping angel on blinking companion. Nerd jokes over.)
The film kicks off with Tiffany and her new husband (who looks so much like a beefy Paul Rudd that it is frankly annoying) at some kind of church picnic. Hot topics of conversation include how much Tiffany’s ex Jeff sucks, and Tiffany’s continued failure to get her sinning butt into church. We also meet Tiffany’s mom, who is concerned about Jeff’s plans to take Tiffany’s son Kobe to Disneyworld. Tiffany reasonably points out that they have a custody agreement that allows Jeff to do that, but grandma doesn’t give a fuck about the law. What matters is motherhood, and Jesus, and foreshadowing. In that order.
Also, grandma’s real name is Belzora, so it’s possible that she is a wizard. A wizard would have seen this coming a mile away.
Cut to the next day, and Jeff is ready to pick up Kobe. Jeff looks like a Korean Mac from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, right down to the slicked-back hair and leather jacket. There’s a weird scene where he leans down and says hello to his son in Korean, and his son respond in kind. The way the shot is framed and the music implies that something sinister is going down, which is weird because Jeff is Korean and it seems natural that he’d want to teach his son about his heritage. But surprise, this movie is kinda racist! Also, foreshadowing. Jeff tells Tiffany to get off his jock and not to call them on the road. I fee like that part is more sinister then the Korean language lesson, but Tiffany weirdly agrees. She gives her son a tearful goodbye, and the plot arc lurches forward.
We see the next few days of Tiffany’s lame, empty, son-less life. Tiff whiles her time away with teaching, cocktails, playing soccer in high heels, and getting teased by her husband about how badly she wants to talk to her son. Seriously, I don’t have kids, but if my son was on a roadtrip with his greasy deadbeat dad I’d chip him like a dog and track him via satellite. Tiffany is being pretty reasonable. That reasonableness bites her in the ass when she calls Jeff’s celly and he doesn’t pick up. She then calls the hotel where they’re supposed to be staying and of course they haven’t checked in. Tiff is suspicious enough to run over to Jeff’s building and bribe a super to let her into his apartment. Sure enough, the place is cleaned out and Jeff is gone. Oh, snap! Maybe someone should have listened to magic grandma Belzora and the Jesus brigade.
Tiffany goes to the police, who are hilariously rude and unhelpful. She explains the situation, and they’re just like ‘Whatever lady, it’s joint custody, nobody gives a damn if some dude stole your kid.’ Jerry Orbach would tear these guys a new asshole. Unruffled, Tiffany hacks into Jeff’s FriendZync account (another awesome LMN imaginary website!) by guessing his super-good password: “steelers”. If your ex-wife can get into your MySpace account, you suck at the internet. She finds a bunch of hoochie emails from hoochi-koochie internet ladies, including one that invites Jeff and Kobe to a sweet condo in Hawaii. Armed with this information, Tiff goes back to the police, who tell her she’s going to jail for stealing her ex-husband’s email. Really? Anyway, Tiff cries and screams at them for a while until the tough lady cop is revealed to be a tough MOM cop, so of course she’ll grudgingly help out.
The news is worse then Tiffany feared- Jeff and Kobe aren’t in Hawaii, but Korea! Jeff also filed a complaint with the police department about Tiffany being a sucky mom, which was apparently his excuse to flee. The police are pretty apologetic about not getting around to investigating things until Jeff had fled the country, but Tiff is unconsolable. She spends the next few scenes searching for answers, but of course there are none to be found. The state department is apologetic but honest about the fact that Korea is under no obligation to get involved with American custody disputes. She tries to hire some private detectives, but they all tell her that her chances aren’t great. Her best plan, in my opinion, is the one where she sets up a fake sexy lady account on FriendZync and propositions Jeff. Her friend puts on some fake boobs and smoothtalks him into almost revealing his address on a webcam chat. Unfortunately, Kobe’s adorable voice in the background makes Tiff come running at the computer and crying, which kind of blows the whole thing. Way to fuck up your plan, super-spy.
Tiff spends a lot of time crying and looking at discarded shoes and toys that are scattered around the house and yard. You know what? Kobe is kind of a slob. Tiff might be better off starting over with another kid who knows how to put his damn crayons away. Belzora disagrees with me, and urges Tif to get in touch with someone at her church who deals with missing kid cases. Tiff replies that everyone at her church is bullshit and she isn’t too happy with God at the moment, which is a fair point. WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW, BELZORA?!
Tiff eventually cracks and goes to see Mark, who is not just an amateur but the legit president of the American
Association for Missing Children, a group that works to reunite kidnapped children with their legal guardians. Maybe if Belzora had mentioned this information along with the fact that he loves Jesus a ton, Tiff might have been more excited to speak with him. But golly, does this guy love Jesus! He says that faith is what keeps him going, and that any time you give money to a church sometimes it goes to people like him! Wink-nudge, folks at home. Sometimes it also goes to Chick Tracts though, so caveat emptor. Despite the mighty Jesus powers bestowed to him by faith, he says Tiffany’s case is impossible and that she should just give up. So much for faith. He encourages her to post Kobe’s information on an international teacher’s website to see if anyone spots him, and then scoots her out of the way so some more attainable lost kids can be serviced instead.
Tiff takes his advice, and is soon contacted by an American teacher named Simon who is working at the school Kobe attends. Here’s where the move gets racist- every shot of Korea is dimly lit, crowded, and gross, the school sucks, and every one there picks on Kobe because he’s an outsider. I’ve never been to a Korean school, but are they all little-kid versions of prisons? That seems off. Simon says that Korea is a bad place for Kobe and he should go home to the good ol’ USA. Tiff uses this info to convince missing kid guy to go with her to Korea and steal Kobe back. Tiff invites Belzora’s prayer group over and they have a sing-songy come to Jesus moment where Tiff is redeemed from, uh, not going to church I guess. They also read the parable of the prodigal son, which makes no sense whatsoever unless Kobe has another brother we haven’t seen yet in the film who resents the hell out of him. It’s from the Bible, though, so it must be relevant somehow.
The end of the movie is kind of like a fun spy movie. Tiff learns enough Korean to get around customs, and her and Mark take off for Korea. They land, make fun of Korean hotels for a while, then they go to bed. In the morning they put on goofy disguises and head to the school. Mark distracts the cop outside so Tiff can pick up Kobe. Tearful reunion, blah blah blah, everyone goes to the US Embassy so Tiff can get a passport for Kobe and get him out of the country. The customs lady, no doubt a tough customs lady mom, agrees to turn a blind eye to the whole reverse-kidnapping thing and makes a temporary passport. Wait, wasn’t a customs person not doing their job correctly a factor in the original kidnapping? Why do we even have customs officials if they’re just letting kids be whisked away to other countries all willy-nilly?
It wouldn’t be a real Lifetime movie without a final tearful confrontation. This happens when Jeff finds Tiff at the airport and demands custody of Kobe. Tiff isn’t impressed, calls him a dick, and hops a jet. Goodbye Korea, hello Brooklyn. USA! USA!
Real talk: I liked this movie. It dragged a little in the middle, but it was cheesy and fun. It toed the line between lurid tabloid flick and Lifetime movie pretty effectively, and was whack-a-doo enough that I got some laughs out of it too. I am knocking off 8 points for the movie’s contention that Jesus is the world’s best problem solver and Korea is gross and terrible, because I don’t like it when movies try and tell me what to do.
Star Power: 5
Taraji P. Henson is honestly awesome in this movie. She knows she’s in a campy melodrama and she plays it for all she’s worth. Not since A Little Thing Called Murder have I seen a lead actress so gleefully embrace such a ridiculous script. 4 points are for her, and 1 point is for the guy from Lost, since nobody will shut up about how this movie has a guy from Lost in it.
Uh, women’s intuition turned Tiffany Rubin into the goddamned Batman. I’d give it an 11 if I could.
27 seems fair. If this review made you want to watch this movie, you could kill your time in worse ways. Or you could wait until next week, when I’m going to tell you all about a movie where someone clones their dead baby.
Yeah, you heard me. What?