Picks and Pans Review: Cross My Heart

updated 12/07/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/07/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

This movie is about dating in the '80s. That is, it's about how much he or she can trust her or him. The age-old tale of white and not-so-white lies between lovers has been done countless times before in film (The Graduate or Tootsie) and TV sitcoms (pick any one). The twist now is that skepticism has escalated out of sight. Martin Short and Annette O'Toole, in two likable performances, are the nervous couple in question. Short plays a salesman who's just lost his job, destroying any confidence he might have had for that crucial third date, when he hopes to bed down with O'Toole. To fortify his ego, he pretends to live in a friend's glitzy apartment. Short is hilarious trying to explain things he knows nothing about. O'Toole is equally funny hiding the fact that she has a young daughter, while at the same time trying to get at the meaning of their relationship. Short just wants to get into bed. "You're safe with me," he assures her. "I have an AAA rating. You can eat off me." The film is full of funny, recognizable moments. Co-writer-director Armyan (One From the Heart) Bernstein even addresses the condom issue, with Short giving readings of prophylactic labels. The comedy has to be uneasy when the implicit premise has to do with fear of AIDS. And when Short and O'Toole discover the truth about each other, the guilt and anger they feel seem real. The pain stings. Bernstein is a contemporary version of the old cinematic cupid—he's judging the morality of the pairing as well as creating it—and his satire-tipped arrows land right on target. (R)

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