Though it soon devolves into a laughable mess, The Forgotten at least spends its first 10 minutes or so raising provocative questions. Looking deeply troubled, Julianne Moore plays a mother still deep in mourning for the 9-year-old son she lost in a plane crash 14 months earlier. Everyone understands her grief, but her friends and loved ones have grown uncomfortable around her. She sees a therapist (Gary Sinise), tries not to argue with her husband (Anthony Edwards), and attempts to limit her time watching old videos and thumbing through photo albums, but the pain just won't go away. Moore grieves at a slower pace than everyone around her, so when pictures of her son begin disappearing and Edwards can't recall ever having a son, her life doesn't feel that much different.
The Forgotten seems interested in exploring how grief gets channeled into culturally acceptable forms, and in finding the place where devotion ends and madness begins. Then it stops caring about those matters and becomes much sillier. Sensing that Sinise and Edwards plan to give her a one-way ticket to the cuckoo house, Moore flees. After some convincing, she reminds alcoholic former hockey star Dominic West that he lost a daughter in the same plane crash that killed her son, and they quickly set off in hot pursuit of the mystery while running from the police, the National Security Agency, and a mysterious fellow who seems to be imitating Robert Patrick's performance as the T-1000 in Terminator 2.
Only viewers who have never seen an episode of Twilight Zone will find suspense in The Forgotten, apart from the question of whether the film will really be silly enough to follow the big twist it loudly telegraphs. But then it does. "The goddamn truth won't fit… in… your… head," one character tells Moore as she nears the big revelation. In fact, the truth would fit easily on the back of a napkin. Moore somehow keeps from embarrassing herself, and the film's early segments again confirm that director Joseph Ruben (Return To Paradise, The Stepfather) can build tension out of the minutiae of everyday life. Scenes in which supporting characters suddenly get sucked into the sky, however, prove to be outside of his (or really anyone's) area of expertise.