Spoiler alert: She dies.
Natalee Holloway is graduating with honors from the most white bread high school in Alabama. Not a black person to be seen. And, awww, she wants to be a doctor. Sure hope nothing gets in the way of her dreams.
For some reason, the high school sponsors a trip to a third world protectorate where the drinking and gambling age are 18. The only reason for such a trip is to get as wasted as possible. And this is sponsored by a high school? And we're supposed to be surprised when something goes wrong?
Ugh. I hate this. An 18-year-old's death should be a tragedy. But whether it's a girl in Aruba whose crazy mom refuses to believe her little angel would have sex or take drugs (or a girl with cocaine in her system crashing a $100,000 Porsche leaving her with a case of exploded head), I just can't work myself up about it. I don't care. So I'm going to keep on being snarky about a horrible situation.
So Natalee goes to Aruba and gets really into body shots and meets a charming young local named Joran. To avoid lawsuits, the direction is a little tricky here, but we're supposed to think that Joran is drugging Natalee. Natalee gets in a car with Joran and his suspiciously ethnic friends and she is never seen again.
You know Joran is a bad guy because he listens to rap music.
The next morning Natalee's mom, Beth, gets the phone call that Natalee didn't show up for her flight. Beth doesn't want to jump to any conclusions, so she immediately calls 911 and the Birmingham FBI office and tells whomever will listen that her daughter has been kidnapped.
Things don't get better when Beth and her husband show up in Aruba uninvited. (They're able to make the trip on the cheap by borrowing a friend's plane.) Beth takes her framed picture of Natalee to hotel employees. One identifies Natalee's companion that night as Joran. So Beth and company make a trip to Joran's parents' mansion.
Beth's husband asks Joran if he remembers Natalee. Joran snickers and remembers Natalee as the drunk girl from the night before. So, naturally, Beth's husband threatens fisticuffs. One sentence in and these American yahoos are ready to start breaking faces and taking names.
With all the cowboy justice and the Jesus talk that follows, it's pretty clear that Natalee Holloway's family were Bush voters. If only the thousands of American soldiers killed in Iraq and the tens - if not hundreds - of thousands of Iraqi citizens got the same media attention. I know it's a broad political point that one shouldn't be making four years after graduating from college, but, Jesus, the media coverage of this case was horrible. This moron family, according to Wikipedia, even criticized the media for covering the Hurricane Katrina disaster instead of Day of Death+x of this case. These people are terrible.
So, then, after one day of questioning, Beth is infuriated that the police aren't searching Joran's car for evidence. You'd think things would be the same in the United States of the Fourth Amendment, but this is different! The Aruban police just don't care!
From there, the media gets a hold of the story and Beth is all too eager to be on every major network. She goes as far as to accuse Joran and his two swarthy accomplices of drugging, gang raping, and murdering Natalee. Evidence? Nope. Just crazy talk.
Finally, some of the authorities sack up and tell Beth that Natalee is probably dead. Beth breaks down and hails a cab. She demands to be taken to a church so she can be with God. The cabbie stops at a cross on the side of a back road. Beth prays and asks for her daughter back. She has some kind of spiritual orgasm with groaning, grunting - the whole nine yards. Then she accepts that Natalee is gone.
Joran gets arrested a few more times but is always released, much to Beth's chagrin. Aruba doesn't care because they keep arresting Joran and let him go! WHAT DOES SHE THINK WOULD HAPPEN IN AMERICA!?!?
The family finally gives up. Beth moves back to America and becomes such a prick that her husband (Natalee's stepfather) dumps her. The best part of the whole movie is when Natalee's kid brother tells Beth that Natalee wouldn't want to see the family split apart over her death.
"THEN NATALEE SHOULDN'T HAVE GOT INTO THAT CAR WITH JORAN!!!"
Check and mate!
Years later, a Dutch undercover investigative news team captures Joran on tape claiming that Natalee had a seizure after blowing Joran and he dumped her body in the water. Way to go, Beth, accusing Joran's two friends of gang rape without any evidence. Beth accepts Joran's stoned recollection as the truth and goes on a speaking tour to other irresponsible schools that set up drunken field trips.
Not mentioned: Beth creepily dating JonBenet's dad.
I fugured enough time had passed between the media saturation of the Holloway case and the premiere of this movie for me to watch it without grinding my teeth. Not the case. After thirty minutes, I realized I knew exactly how the story would play out and hated myself for knowing. Fuck Nancy Grace.
If anything, this is evidence that there is absolutely no need, ever, for a Terri Schiavo movie.
HEY! IT'S THAT GUY: 0
Beth was played by a lady whose claim to fame is being married to Michael J. Fox.
One crazy woman taking on an entire island in order to find justice for her blameless rape victim daughter with only the support of her Lord. Yeah, pretty Lifetimey.
GRAND TOTAL: 15
A true disappointment. I really wanted so much more from the film. I've somehow developed a conscience that won't allow me to laugh at the dead high schooler. That, or the movie was just awful.