Picks and Pans Review: Lucy & Desi: Before the Laughter

updated 02/11/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/11/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

CBS (Sun., Feb. 10, 9 P.M. ET)

C-

"Ju doan beat dee maracas; ju chake dem," says Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz to MGM ingenue Lucille Ball as they fence seductively at their first meeting in 1940. This bitter bio-flick follows the couple over the next decade in a series of flashbacks summoned up on the night the first episode of I Love Lucy is filmed in 1951.

Maurice (All My Children) Benard and Frances (A Promise to Keep) Fisher bear a certain physical resemblance to the couple, and the movie, in addition to being nicely photographed and costumed, has considerable nostalgic weight behind it. But the acting (which consists primarily of vamping and exaggerated facial aerobics) is terrible. And the clumsy set pieces that make up the exposition are strident: Lucy explodes over Desi's constant philandering; Desi fumes over a career going nowhere. The two scenes where they do comedy together are totally torturous.

If ju goan to do something so tacky, at least make it funny.

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