Picks and Pans Review: I Like It Like That

updated 10/31/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/31/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Lauren Vélez, Jon Seda

This sprawling domestic comedy, set in the South Bronx, starts off loud and irritating and winds up loud and ingratiating.

Vélez and Seda—she portrays a black Latina and he's Latino—have been married for 10 years. Life is tough and money is scarce, but they love each other and are raising their kids as best they can. When he is sent to prison after stealing a stereo for her, she gets a job in Manhattan as a receptionist for a record producer (Griffin Dunne). Her boss drops her off at home one night in his red Lamborghini, and the neighbors assume the worst. So does her husband when he hears about it.

First-time screenwriter-director Darnell Martin obviously feels warmly toward her characters and so will viewers. She doesn't pretend anyone in this neighborhood has it easy but demonstrates the sense of belonging that can be had there. As for her cast, the lithesome Vélez shows the sass of Rosie Perez without the vulgarity, and Seda is sweetly appealing. Dunne and Rita Moreno, playing Seda's disapproving mother, are comically effective in supporting roles. If you take it on its own modest terms, I Like It Like That is easy to like. (R)

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