2018/01/16

Abysmal: Runaway Father

Runaway Father (1991)
Directed by John Nicolella
Written by Richard Rashke, Stephanie Liss
Produced by Lee Levinson, Howard Rosenstein, Carroll Newman, Dennis Stuart Murphy, Donna Mills, Judith A. Polone
Starring Donna Mills, Jenny Lewis, J.C. Brandy, Amy Moore Davis, Jack Scalia, Chris Mulkey, Jane Daly, Nancy Lenehan, Chick Vennera
Weekly, extruded, semi-fictional hardship of single maternity #82,351: after siring three kids in as many matrimonial years and consummating one extramarital affair, an aeromaniacal pilot (Scalia) abandons his constant wife (Mills) and three daughters (Davis, Brandy, and Lewis, eventually) to pursue his dream of plying his present occupation. Every Republican's nightmare is realized when this forsaken mother of three and welfare recipient procures subsidiary subvention to attend a state university and earn a degree in something or other, so to substantiate every sane human's nightmare by obtaining a post as an office drone in the service of the IRS. Not too many years subsequent to the deadbeat's reported death, a second wife he's dropped (Lenehan) apprises her revived predecessor that he's alive and flightier than ever! With the abetment of a P.I. and potential love interest (Mulkey, somehow never a guest star on Knots Landing) met at a congressman's fundraiser and a Floridian attorney (Vennera) working pro bono, the tetchy trigamist is located and apprehended, but impecuniosity obliges her to act as her own prosecuting attorney...all the better to put him on trial herself!! Then she goes to law school! Charming stupidities abound in this soppy saga of weaponized desertion and prosecutorial vengeance, not the least of which include a lugubrious poem penned and read by Lewis bemoaning her absent pappy, his bizarre, momentary impression of Jimmy Durante whilst attempting to extrajudicially bribe her, and an obiter dictum phrased by a judge contiguous to a conclusive sentence, commending Mills' single mommy for her feistiness and fortitude. Chintzy costumery and set design comprise skimpy, shabby '60s period details as unconvincing as the motherly affection stiffly expressed by ice queen Mills, appearing nearly as fresh as forty in her "twenties." Those of Lewis' modest cult following won't object to her hammy cuteness, and Lisanne Falk portrays in a cameo one of Scalia's doltish lovers. It's moderately distasteful as Lifetime's features come, as much for its bureaucratic evangelism as the spousal and paternal dereliction of Scalia's narcist. Whatever actually occurred is purportedly recounted in Rashke's eponymous book.