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TV REVIEW : A Tug of War for Custody of a Son

November 21, 1994|LYNNE HEFFLEY

Once you know that "Because Mommy Works" is about a custody fight, and if you've seen the news this year, you probably have an idea about the outcome of this new NBC movie.

The deck is steeply stacked, but the film is watchable, due to the caliber of the principal players, despite their black-hat, white-hat roles: Anne Archer as Abby, a dedicated cardiac nurse and loving mom; John Heard as the ex-husband dad, an arrogant, manipulative, hotshot photographer; Ashley Crow as his new stay-at-home, compliant wife, and, holding his own and then some, Casey Moses Wurzbach as Willie, the hapless little boy caught in the middle. He's an atypical TV kid, sweet-faced and natural.

Even Tom Amandes makes his role as Abby's incredibly sensitive, romantic, nurturing love interest almost buyable.

How Willie's dad woos his son with gifts and good times and forces his wife to take some hard knocks for being a professional woman will probably have some divorced fathers cheering, while working mothers seethe.

The real truth in this weeper, however, can be found in pint-sized Wurzbach's face, where emotional exhaustion is evident as the parent who wins in the end bears the boy away in triumph.

Indeed, director Robert Markowitz, no fool, uses many silent close-ups of Wurzbach to poignant effect. Christine Berardo wrote the teleplay, from a story by Lynn Mamet and Marjorie David.

* "Because Mommy Works" airs at 9 tonight on NBC (Channels 4, 39 and 39).

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