Picks and Pans Review: Foreign Student

updated 08/29/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/29/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Robin Givens, Marco Hofschneider

This based-on-a-true-story account of a French student's sojourn at a Virginia college in the '50s has the appeal of a wet croissant. The ruddy-cheeked Hofschneider, freshly arrived on campus, comes to grief on the gridiron when he fails to realize that French football (soccer), at which he is a champion, is a far cry from American football. After suffering a savage tackle, he is befriended by the school's blond quarterback hero (Rick Johnson), who fixes him up with the big belles on campus, translates slang and explains about good girls and bad girls. At a professor's house the homesick Hofschneider has a chance encounter with Givens, an elementary school teacher who moonlights as a housekeeper, and immediately falls in love. Johnson warns his friend in the most racist terms possible about the dangers of getting involved with Givens—to no avail. Day after day, Hofschneider journeys to the other side of the tracks, and thus unfolds a forbidden—and preternaturally flaccid—love story: The lovers tryst, Hofschneider promises eternal devotion, the eternally smirking Givens knows better, the lovers break up as they quote Byron to each other. Oh, and Hofschneider, quite unaccountably, becomes a football hero on the eve of his return home. The movie roars briefly to life during a sequence where Hofschneider, in an effort to assimilate, listens to blues at a blacks-only roadhouse. At the microphones: Hinton Battle and the incomparable Charles Dutton, star of TV's Roc. They're the only ones in Foreign Student to make the grade. (R)

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