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Television Reviews : 'Wonderworks: Frog'

January 22, 1988|LYNNE HEFFLEY

Fixing up your best friend with a date isn't always easy. If your best friend is a frog, it can be a real challenge.

Have the popcorn handy. This one's worth staying home for, however old you are: PBS' "Wonderworks" offering, "Frog," airing Saturday at 7 p.m. on Channels 28 and 50, is a quirky, romantic, web-footed delight.

Brainy young teen Arlo (Scott Grimes) is a wash-out with the opposite sex--he wants to talk about his pet snakes, lizards and worms, but girls just say, "Yuk."

Reptiles give Dad (Elliott Gould) the creeps too--he wishes his son could be a regular guy and go out for baseball. Mom (Shelley Duvall) takes a more cosmic view but she wants Arlo to have a social life.

Then Arlo meets Gus the Frog. No ordinary frog, Gus has an Italian accent and a penchant for singing "That's Amore" (Paul Williams does the voice). He's really an enchanted prince named Giuseppe, who must be kissed by a beautiful woman to regain his human shape.

Arlo discovers there's a shortage of beautiful women who will voluntarily kiss a big, fat, wet green frog. He's got other problems too. His science project is due and perky blonde Suzie (Amy Lynne) has agreed to be his class partner, only because she wants a good grade. She thinks Arlo's a nerd.

Arlo has some things to learn about people--and so does Suzie.

Don't expect a moment of heavy-handedness, however. David Arata's and Mark Herder's script is a perfect blend of humor and heart and David Grossman directs with witty finesse. Shelley Duvall has never been more appealingly fey, while Gould makes a likeable befuddled, macho Dad.

Grimes, round-faced and bespectacled, is a fine actor with impeccable comic timing, and Lynne, a little beauty, is irresistible, especially in the frog pond.

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