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JUST THE WAY YOU ARE

                

From the November 19, 1984 Deseret News

JUST THE WAY YOU ARE — Kristy McNichol, Michael Ontkean, Kaki Hunter, Robert Carradine, Lance Guest; rated PG (sex, nudity, profanity)

Kristy McNichol is loaded with charm, and that's just about all that holds "Just the Way You Are" together. Fortunately, for the most part, that's enough, as she plays a very likable character in this slight, low-key slice-of-life comedy.

McNichol stars as a flutist who suffered from polio as a child and must wear a brace on her leg as a result. She's been very unlucky in love, able only to meet men who get nervous because of her disability.

During her first solo European tour, McNichol gets a brainstorm – she'll head for a posh ski resort with a cast on her leg, hoping she'll be more accepted as a whole person if she is perceived as having merely a temporary disability.

Needless to say, it works, and she's pursued by many men, not the least of whom is Michael Ontkean as a freelance photographer, the one she inevitably falls in love with.

"Just the Way You Are" seems more like two movies than one, with the first half devoted to setting up McNichol's life, which includes her parents, a fiancé whom she is tempted to marry for convenience and a girlfriend (Kaki Hunter) with her own insecurities. Among the men who come into her life during this portion of the movie are Robert Carradine and Lance Guest, but both are awkward in different ways about McNichol's physical limitation.

Then the second half of the film takes place almost entirely in the ski resort, with McNichol at first on the prowl, then trying to develop a relationship with Ontkean, though she can't bring herself to tell him the truth about the cast on her leg.

As a film, "Just the Way You Are" seems every bit as insecure as McNichol's character. Director Edouard Molinaro, the Frenchman who directed "La Cage aux Folles," makes his English-speaking debut here, and he brings a few nice touches here and there, but for some reason redundantly focuses his camera on McNichol's leg, as if he has to keep reminding us what this movie is about. And the script by Allan Burns ("A Little Romance") is just too soft. It needs something sharper of wit and tongue.

But McNichol is an utter delight, and the rest of the cast is quite good, particularly Andre Dussollier as a ski-product mogul. Carradine and Guest (whom you might remember as "The Last Starfighter") are quite effective in brief roles, and Kaki Hunter, best known for the "Porky's" films, is charming as McNichol's early friend. Ontkean doesn't have a lot to do, but he's convincing as a photographer who would rather be with spunky McNichol than the high-fashion ninny he came with.

"Just the Way You Are" is rated PG, but contains sex, profanity and a brief nude scene of McNichol flashing a friend.