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TV REVIEWS : Haim Excels as 'One of the Girls'

September 13, 1993|RAY LOYND

From "Tootsie" all the way back to Shakespeare's Arden Forest, cross-dressing has a long history of enriching comedy. The warm, diverting, easy-going comedy "Just One of the Girls" (at 8 tonight on Fox, Channels 11 and 6) gives the protagonist-in-drag a newfound freshness on TV.

Only certain comic actors can pull off this transformation, and Corey Haim, whose performance as a high school co-ed is winningly low-key, is certainly one of them.

The setting is an urban high school steeped in American values. Haim plays an enterprising teen-ager transferring to the campus for its hot, techno-super music department. As a matter of survival, he is forced to don a wig and other co-ed accessories to outwit a threatening bully (the Rob Lowe-handsome Cameron Bancroft).

His disguise, of course, hurtles him into one chaotic confrontation after another--with parents, his skeptical women's gym teacher (Rachel Hayward), the macho bully (who falls for him) and a newfound sweetheart (Nicole Eggert, so luminous she reminds you of a very young Grace Kelly) who lets him get close as a treasured girlfriend.

For veteran moviegoers who remember Red Skelton in a tutu trying to fake "Swan Lake" in Esther Williams' college ballet class in "Bathing Beauty" (MGM, 1944), the sight of Haim in a short, flappy skirt trying to do the splits in a co-ed cheerleading camp will brings smiles and laughs.

The script by Raul Fernandez, briskly directed by Michael Keusch and barbed with arrows at typically crude guys who talk too loud and are "turned on by naked manikins," scores strong points about healthy relationships.

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