John (Keith Carradine) and his wife, Leanne (Daryl Hannah) are two white trash murderers who are on the run with the police. When the cops catch them in the act of burglarizing a house (and murdering the people who live there), John and Leanne manages to narrowly escape but they’re forced to leave behind their 6 year-old daughter, Janie (Julia Devlin).
Traumatized by her former life, Janie is adopted by an architect named Russell (Vincent Spano) and his wife, Dana (Moira Kelly). Dana, who lost her previous baby, and Russell are convinced that they can give Janie a loving home and help her overcome her past traumas. And it seems like they might be correct, even though Janie is still terrified of a mysterious monster that she calls “the tooth fairy.”
However, John and Leanne are determined to get their daughter back and they’ve just found out where Russell and Dana live.
The Tie That Binds is a stupid movie from 1995 that, like a lot of stupid movies from the 90s, was put into heavy rotation on HBO and Cinemax after a brief box office run. The main problem with the film is that everyone consistently makes the dumbest decisions possible but then we’e expected to sympathize with them when everything goes wrong. John and Leanne may be extremely evil but they’re also extremely stupid so it’s hard to really buy into the idea that they could somehow successfully evade being caught by the police long before the inevitable scene where they confront Russell and Dana in the unfinished house that Russell’s spent the entire movie working on.
The Tie That Binds does feature good performances, all from actors who deserved better. Keith Carradine and Daryl Hannah are frightening and Moira Kelly and Vincent Spano are convincing as a normal couple who just want to do the right thing. Both Kelly and Spano should have been bigger stars back in the day but instead, it seems like they usually just ended up in stuff like The Tie That Binds.