"Always Remember I Love You," which airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on Ch. 5, isn't a perfect television movie, but it is a moving one.
It's the sotyr of a teen-age boy (Stephen Dorff) who inadvertantly learns on his 16th birthday that his parents (David Birney and Joan "Knots Landing" Van Ark) aren't really his parents after all.But the boy wasn't exactly adopted, either. He was stolen a the age of 2 and sold as part of a baby-broker ring, a situation of which the adoptive parents were unaware at the time.
It's sort of the old saw about being stolen from the crib by gypsies given a new twist.
Anyway, crushed and confused, he runs away from jhome and turns up at the home of his real birth parents (played by Patty Duke and Richard "I seem to turn up in everything these days" Masur).
He becomes friendly with their son/his brother (Jarred Blanchard) and ultimately moves into their house, living there incognito whele the frantic Van Ark searches the Midwest for him.
The one sour note sounded by the only otherwise heartfelt and compelling "Always Remember I Love You" - and it's a major one - is the annoying fact that Dorff's unsettled teen alter ego never lets on to one who he really is to his newfound parents until the very end - only then only in a note.
It drags the viewer through an endless series of unsatisfying teases that distracts from the film's emotional center. Every time you feel he's going to let them know, he pulls back, and we feel a little bit cheated.
But perhaps one reason this failure to communicate is annoying is because the film itself is so involving.
Duke, Masur, Birney and Van Ark all turn in superb work, as does the brooding Dorff and the animated Blanchard. They help lift "Always Remember I Love You" above the typical holiday hokum exercise. It's a mostly well-told tale of love and disapointment, discovery and maturity.