Friday, December 13, 2013

The Deadbeat Dad documentary! Angelo Lobo's ROMEO MISSES A PAYMENT hits NY, LA, London

Having trouble with those child support and/or alimony payments? Here's the documentary for you. ROMEO MISSES A PAYMENT (interesting title, that--with all sorts of implications) from a new filmmaker named Angelo Lobo ("Angel Wolf" in translation?) hopes to put the spotlight on the USA's current divorce laws and how these effect alimony and child support, as well as giving us a look at what the filmmaker sees as the badly outmoded if not downright unjust doings of our family court system.
This would be a tall order for even a seasoned filmmaker, I believe, and Mr. Lobo (shown at left) is not nearly that. Consequently his film, which lasts only 66 minutes, takes awhile to even begin to convince. When mention is made of fit parents, we're given little indication of what the word "fit" actually means. And when we're introduced to a deadbeat dad and prisoner named John Mutari (below), and Lobo compares him to Mahatma Gandhi, when all we know about him is that he's gone on a hunger strike in prison, this may leave some viewers marveling at the level of naivete on display.

If you stick with the documentary, however, you may find yourself beginning to see the point. Granted, the short length of Lobo's film does not give much time for in-depth exploration, but the dads (and one token mom) that he interviews here possess stories that will begin to grab and even move you a bit.

You'll hear about everything from U.S. Marines and other servicemen who, due to sudden salary cuts, are unable to make their payments and so are declared deadbeat even as they are or were fighting for our country, to the poor fellow who's the subject of a paternity fraud and who tells us that all a woman has to do is name someone as the father and certain courts will simply go after him with nothing but her word as evidence.

You'll also hear about nasty wives who've drained their exes for every last penny (the suicide rate among deadbeat dads is evidently higher than the norm). The movie at times comes close to the misogynistic, so it was indeed wise of Lobo in include his one deadbeat mom.

Beyond individuals, according to the filmmaker, it's the whole system that is involved in a kind of fraud. Especially Texas (wouldn't you know it?) where, we are told, there is a "systemic incentive to overstate the amount of child support obligation," and so kickbacks to the state are common-place and most welcome, particularly in these "down" economic times.

Interestingly enough, Lobo begins his film at a singles bar where gals and guys are hooking up. The questions he asks these young people, together with the answers given, suggest that this whole marriage/divorce/child support merry-go-round is pre-ordained by the stupidity and irresponsibil-ity on view. All the problems in the film, as the filmmaker points out, begin here. If Lobo and his subjects had spent a little more time thinking about this -- looking before they leap, sheathing before they shove it in -- many of these Romeos might not have had any payments to miss.

Romeo Misses a Payment makes its theatrical debut this Friday, December 13, in New York City at the AMC Magic Johnson 9, the Regent Cinema in Los Angeles, and the Prince Charles Theater in -- yes! -- London.


Anonymous said...

The courts need a self-support sustenance reserve in order to give them guidance in differentiating between 'deadbeat' and 'deadbroke' parents.

Child support compliance also needs to be determined by the percentage of parents sharing the responsibility for providing for their children's needs instead of the gross amount of child support collected, which give the stats a financial incentive to order the maximum child support award in all circumstances without considering the non-custodial parents ability to pay child support.

James van Maanen said...

Wise words, Anon! The difference between deadbeat and deadbroke is not taken into consideration often enough.

Did you mean "states" rather than "stats"? That makes more sense, I think, so I am guessing you did.

Anyway, thanks for commenting.