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Picks and Pans Review: Telling Lies in America

updated 10/27/1997 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/27/1997 01:00AM

Brad Renfro, Kevin Bacon, Calista Flockhart, Paul Dooley

His lips curled in a permanent sneer, his hair slicked back in an Elvis pompadour and wearing threads only Liberace would consider subdued, Bacon is the pluperfect picture of hustler cool, early '60s style. Spinning records and supervising sock hops at a Cleveland radio station while living high on payola cash, his morally malleable deejay in Telling Lies in America epitomizes everything the movie's teenage Hungarian-immigrant protagonist (Renfro) thinks he wants to be.

How the youth, after being hired as Bacon's assistant, learns different is at the heart of this surprisingly sweet coming-of-age story. Surprisingly because this modest movie is based on a semiautobiographical script, albeit one written more than a decade ago, by the swaggering Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct and Showgirls). As directed by Guy Ferland (The Babysitter), Lies is best at capturing a specific place and time (Cleveland during the pre-Beatles '60s) and in showcasing Bacon, who is truly terrific. (PG-13)

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