Picks and Pans Review: David

updated 10/24/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/24/1988 01:00AM

ABC (Tues., Oct. 25, 9 p.m. ET)

A+

Do not judge this movie by the company it keeps. Yes, there are too, too many based-on-a-true-story disease-of-the-week exploitation shows on TV these days. But David is not one of them, even if it is based on a true story and even if it is a movie about someone's suffering. David is the exception. It is an extraordinary film, magnificently made and wonderfully moving. It tells the story of 6-year-old David Rothenberg, who was burned over 90 percent of his body by his deranged father. You may remember David from five years ago, when you saw pictures of a brave boy wearing a plastic mask and a baseball cap being wheeled away from a hospital. Now you get to meet that boy as more than just a short and sappy story on the evening news. Matthew Lawrence plays David, the happy son of an unhappy marriage. Bernadette Peters as his adoring mother tries to build a new life with Dan (The Wonder Years) Lauria as a New York cop. But her ex-husband, John (An Early Frost) Glover, is forever competing for David's affections. Glover steals the boy away to California and.... Well, you already know what's going to happen to David. And sitting there, waiting for that horror, feels sick. It would be sick if only this movie weren't so well done. David gives you a story of love and courage—without exploitation or sensationalism, without cheap and easy sentimentality, without showboat acting or purple profundity. David, directed by John (An Early Frost) Erman, gives you rich, deep drama and human emotion. If you can bear to watch—and it is difficult—you will see one spectacular show.

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