Film review: Love & Debt

by / Aug. 11, 2020 10pm EST

Cheerfully old-fashioned, Love & Debt is a dramedy about an economically stressed family whose gentle tone signals from the outset that it does not plan to send the viewer through an emotional wringer. What it lacks in hard-hitting drama it makes up for in geniality.

Tom Cavanagh of TV’s “The Flash” and “Ed” heads a cast of familiar performers that will have you searching IMDB to remind you where you remember them from. He plays Henry Warner, middle-class husband and father of three who is first seen losing his job as an executive in the financial industry. He hadn’t been taking a salary for the last six months in an effort to help the company get on its feet, a fact he never mentioned to his wife Karen (Bellamy Young of “Scandal”). So not only is he unemployed, but he has racked up $83,000 in credit card debt.

Making it harder to hide all this from his family are phone calls from fledgling debt collector Travis (singer Casey Abrams). Newly armed with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Travis has taken a job with a collection agency in an effort to get a look at the human side of his studies. What he finds isn’t what he was expecting, either from the Warner family or his co-workers.

When the truth comes out, it amplifies tensions that already existed in the Warner family, between Henry and Karen, Karen and teen daughter Melissa (Bailee Madison), and Henry and his less than supportive mother-in-law (Brynn Thayer).

That the script by first-timer Dylan Otto seeks as much sympathy for a debt collector as for the family facing being crushed by that debt is the key to this slice-of-life tale. Director Valerie Landsburg is more interested in portraying a loving family weathering hard times than in tackling social issues, so don’t expect a lot of anger at the system. (You can get enough of that on the news.) Love & Debt would probably have benefitted from a little Hollywood slickness: some of the conflicts feel forced, and the ending doesn’t tie much up. Still, there are worse ways to spend your time than with a bunch of (mostly) likeable people who manage to pull through when put to the test.

Now streaming on Amazon Prime.