Picks and Pans Review: Unspeakable Acts

updated 01/15/1990 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/15/1990 01:00AM

ABC (Mon. Jan. 15, 9 P.M. ET)

C

Nothing on the tube is more disturbing than fact-based movies about child molestation (I Know My First Name Is Steven; Do You Know the Muffin Man). But this harsh, sanctimonious film sets a new standard for being painful to watch.

There's a long setup as three sets of parents (Gary Frank and Season Hubley, Mark Harelik and Bebe Neuwirth, Valerie Lansburg and Jeff Seymour) take their innocent tots to an evil Florida day-care center run by Bess Meyer and Gregory Sierra. You know it's evil because of all the horror-movie music and the fact that the kids keep waking up with the screaming meemies.

Enter—on Mister Rogers-gentle cat feet—a ponytailed Brad Davis and Jill Clayburgh as the husband and wife psychologists who conduct extensive interviews with the children and make a successful prosecution possible. Terence (Tour of Duty) Knox, as a prosecutor, gives the only performance that isn't strictly one-dimensional. Unspeakable Acts—based on real events in Dade County—is a grim, somber and unremittingly bruising viewing experience, one that stirs up a lot of moral anxiety without creating any dramatic tension.

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