Picks and Pans Review: Baby It's You

updated 04/25/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/25/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

We could have done without any more movies about high school kids in the '50s and '60s. But this one is, against all odds, a moving little film. Directed by John (Lianna) Sayles, it seems at its worst moments like a cross between Endless Love and Grease, focusing on a troublesome, bizarre boy's crush on his school's wholesomest coed. The plot has murky moments, but the leads are so appealing and resourceful they overcome the weakness in Sayles' script and direction. Rosanna (The Executioner's Song) Arquette, as the high school golden girl encountering the complications of growing up, shades her performance with wonderful touches of surprise and puzzlement; her drunk scene when she starts college and wants to impress her classmates with her worldliness is a marvel of mounting hysteria. The boy, who idolizes Frank Sinatra and is such an operator he is nicknamed for the brand of contraceptive he uses, is played by Vincent (The Black Stallion Returns) Spano with a subtle mix of charm, vulnerability and frustration. Sayles does include some telling moments—the pedantic teacher warning girls about skirt lengths before the prom, the worldly dorm mate taking Arquette under her wing (the role is nicely underplayed by Tracy Pollan). And Sayles lends a bittersweet quality to the students' lives by accentuating their obsession with illusions. Spano, for instance, ends up with a nightclub act in which he lip-syncs to Sinatra records. This is the kind of film that demands attention and patience. It also frequently rewards viewers with quiet glimpses of truth. (R)

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