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Picks and Pans Review: Table for Five

updated 03/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

How can a divorced father whose three children live with their mother show them he still loves them? When he is hampered by his incompetence, a devoted stepfather's appeal and myriad external complications, he can suffer a lot. And Jon Voight does plenty of that in this sometimes wrenching, sometimes dumb film. He has a number of quietly touching scenes with the children—played with understatement, happily, by Roxana Zal, 13, Robby Kiger, 9, and Saigon-born Son Hoang Bui, 15, effectively sullen as Voight's adopted Vietnamese son. But the movie is full of preposterous turns of event, not the least of which is the cruise to the Mediterranean that Voight, a ne'er-do-well schemer, can somehow afford to take the kids on. That forms the set for the drama. There's an admirable supporting cast: Marie-Christine (Stardust Memories) Barrault, as the French divorcée Voight woos, with incredible ease; Richard Crenna, as the good-hearted but self-righteous stepfather; and Millie Perkins, as Voight's ex-wife. Like Voight and the children, though, they are the victims of director Robert Lieberman, making his first feature after a career noteworthy mainly for his McDonald's commercials, and writer David Seltzer, who may have jerked one too many a tear, having scripted The Other Side of the Mountain as well as the recent Six Weeks. Instead of gaining momentum, the film just loses plausibility until all the plot twists braid themselves together too neatly, ending up like a bad wig, with nary a strand out of place.(PG)

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