Lori Loughlin of “Full House” goes dead serious in a drama in which a wife’s no-good husband disappears after their divorce so he won’t have to pay court-ordered child support. Director Joseph Dougherty’s teleplay is weakened by the wide brush that paints all but two men bad; still, Dougherty delivers an important message about the heroine’s woes and what she does about them.
As the title proclaims, Gerri Anderson is left without funds as ex-husband Doug (Brian Kerwin) drops out of sight. Dougherty traces her descent as bills pile up and the phone and electricity are turned off. She flees with her two sons to her parents’ home in Wisconsin; they’re not well, and her ex’s parents won’t tell her where their son is. She carries a couple of jobs, goes to nursing school and gets encouragement from longtime friend Sarah (Farrah Forke), who introduces her to nice guy Gary (Anthony Tyler Quinn).
She may have met a winner, but she’s still broke. Real villain in the vidpic is the system: Gerri tries desperately to get help through welfare and through a social services counselor (Gordon Clapp) who does nothing. Finally, she places an ad in the paper asking other mothers who’ve faced child support problems to contact her.
Telefilm often runs like a dramatized tract, Loughlin limning Gerri with a realistic earnestness that hurts. Eric Lloyd as son Matt is particularly winning , and Quinn delivers a likable perf. Clapp’s unsympathetic social worker is OK, while Claudette Nevins as Gerri’s mother-in-law is sharp.
Kerwin delivers a good study of the weak, self-centered Doug. Writer/director Dougherty underscores how much Doug’s neglect hurts his sons; it’s an important lesson.
“Inspired” by a woman “now known as Gerri Jensen,” the recitation of her troubles culminates in her creating the Assn. for Children for Enforcement of Child Support, a group set up to help women who can’t get money from deadbeat dads. But it would help the cause if one or two men besides Gary and Gerri’s dad (Linden Chiles) were decent sorts; after all, Gerri’s two boys are expected to grow up to be men someday.