Picks and Pans Review: Just the Way You Are

updated 11/26/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/26/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

For a movie that campaigns for the social acceptance of a woman with a brace on her leg, Just the Way You Are has a nasty habit: It cuts to more close-ups of feet than a Busby Berkeley dance musical. Starring Kristy McNichol, this romance chronicles the humiliations and hardships of a handicapped American musician who finds her self-respect and self-reliance during a ski vacation in the French Alps. As executed by screenwriter Allan Burns, who wrote for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and director Edouard (La Cage aux Folles) Molinaro, who is making his English-language debut, there's an underlying hypocrisy to the tale. By constantly calling attention to its heroine's afflictions, it's guilty of the same offense for which it condemns some characters. Despite the smattering of sex and nudity, this is another time tunnel movie. Like American Dreamer, it could just as easily have hit the screens in 1955. As with the throw-away romances of that period, it's all scenery and pious moralizing. True to the European adventures typical of that day, it also features the usual the-continent-can-cure-you philosophy and a disposable male lead, Michael (Making Love) Ontkean, whose dimples go deeper than his characterization. What leavens this exercise to some extent, anyway, is Kristy McNichol's performance. As an actress, she's promiscuous with her good humor and good will: She flirts with everybody in the film—and the camera as well. Like Debra Winger or Sissy Spacek, she is unimpeachably forthright with the camera. But McNichol's directness only serves to italicize the embarrassing artifice of the script. Just the Way You Are isn't really moviemaking; it's pamphleteering. (PG)

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