First-time scripter Glenn Taranto was inspired to write Stolen after reading an article about the real-life, unsolved "Boy in the Box" murder case of 1957. It's uncertain whether or not Taranto and debuting helmer Anders Anderson looked at the Law & Order: SVU and Cold Case episodes that also used the crime as a plot thread; the sub-televisual incompetence of their film suggests not. Two parallel stories about aggrieved fathers unfold: In 1958, recent widower Matthew (Josh Lucas) struggles to provide for his three sons, including mentally challenged John (whose impairment is conveyed by tonsorial anachronism, sporting an unruly mid-'60s mop top); present-day detective Tom (Jon Hamm) is obsessed with tracking down the person responsible for his son's disappearance eight years ago. In the lead-up to the inevitable connection, Anderson builds suspense around innumerable close-ups of telephone touchpads, liquids being spilled, Lucas straining to be a credible hayseed, the sight of a Dawson's Creek star (James Van Der Beek) in bad old-man makeup, and the question of whether Hamm was so unsure about the longevity of Mad Men, whose first season had already premiered by the time shooting for Stolen started, that he said yes to this.
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