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BABY TALK 'LOSING ISAIAH' REFLECTS CURRENT CONCERNS

Tabulations are based on an exit poll averaging at least 300 film-goers per movie. Viewers rate the movie between 1 and 4 stars. "Audience Approval" is the percent who gave the film either 3 1/2 or 4 stars.

COMMENTS

"Losing Isaiah" earned high praise from moviegoers. After hospital workers ignore the abandoned baby of a cocaine-addicted mother, social worker Jessica Lange gives the child the love necessary for its survival and eventually adopts the baby. Halle Berry is the crack-addled mom who dumped the child in an alley, but has since undergone rehab in prison. After learning of her baby's fate, she sues for custody of young Isaiah, with the help of race-conscious attorney Samuel L. Jackson.

What follows is the gut-wrenching story Americans have become accustomed to watching on the evening news. Do the courts have the right to devastate a child's world? Can they remove a child from a family that has provided security and love? Can "Losing Isaiah" shed the shallow TV-drama image?

Berry's turn-around is convincing evidence that she will care for Isaiah with complete devotion. So the debate is emotionally charged, as audiences view both sides of the issue.

Pragmatic solutions may rest in the courtroom, but the ultimate indictment of this fair-minded film points to a society where responsibility is distributed as dispassionately as income tax returns. You should enter the theater knowing that only disturbing resolutions are potential outcomes.

Viewers were universal in their praise, saying: "Real life. Good movie," "The way it is," and "It really teaches us we can accept each other no matter what color." (Jeff Simon: "Soap from the word go. What really distinguishes this very good TV problem movie about adoption and the rights of 'natural' mothers is a revelatory performance from Halle Berry, an astonishingly beautiful young actress." He gave it 3 1/2 stars.)

RELEASES

"Bye Bye, Love": One of the mystifying paradoxes in all entertainment is how a situation comedy can be so satisfying when cooped up in a tiny tube, yet so vacant and unfulfilling on the silver screen. Paul Reiser from TV's successful "Mad About You" teams with Matthew Modine and Randy Quaid to examine the personalities and possibilities surrounding divorced dads stuffing quality time into their allocated weekends. No one interviewed was disappointed, but most results were in the mild praise ranges. Moviegoers said: "It was good for some fun," "Not special, but entertaining," and "Funny. Good in the family entertainment category." (Buffalo News critic Jeff Simon: "Is this what movies are coming to? No matter how sweet and likable and even funny this movie about divorced fatherhood is, it's nothing more than a swollen TV sitcom." He gave it 3 of 5 stars.)

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