Picks and Pans Review: Clara's Heart

updated 10/17/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/17/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

As a Jamaican maid keeping house for a wealthy Baltimore couple, Whoopi Goldberg has the look and accent just right. So much for the good news. Ever since her acclaimed 1985 film debut in The Color Purple, the actress-comic has barely kept her head above water while her movies (Jumpin' Jack Flash, Burglar, Fatal Beauty, The Telephone) went under. After this, she'll need her own lifeboat. Screenwriter Mark (Children of a Lesser God) Medoff and director Robert (To Kill a Mockingbird) Mulligan have turned Joseph Olshan's delicate 1985 novel into an appalling game of Can You Top This? in misery stories: The Baltimore yuppies, smugly played by Kathleen Quinlan and Michael Ontkean, have just lost their infant daughter to crib death. Their 15-year-old son, Neil Patrick Harris, feels rejected by his parents. His parents feel rejected by each other; their marriage is crumbling. Clara, that's Whoopi, has the worst story of all, involving rape, suicide and...It would be unjust to say more, except that Clara's Heart is just awful. (PG-13)

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