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Television Review

No Punch, Poor Lines in ABC's 'Kiss My Act'

April 23, 2001|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Take this movie . . . please.

"Kiss My Act," tonight's ABC film pairing punch-lines with "Cyrano de Bergerac," comes up short as a frothy romantic yarn about an aspiring stand-up comic beset by low self-esteem.

With Camryn Manheim of "The Practice" as star and executive producer, the movie aims an arrow at your funny bone but misses the target. It wants to pluck your heartstrings but merely tests your patience. And it pushes for a storybook charm, but the execution tends to be heavy-handed.

Manheim plays Samantha (just call her Sam), a quick-witted bartender at a small New York comedy club where the regulars love her snappy zingers. Unfortunately, Sam can't muster the courage to perform them on stage. Instead, she offers a steady supply of jokes to Jennie (Alexondra Lee), a fetching, featherbrained comic whose act catches the eye of Michael (Scott Cohen), a weary talent scout seeking a fresh face.

Sam reluctantly becomes the intermediary for Michael, who likes Jennie's gags and her gorgeous looks. Meanwhile, a jaded veteran (Dabney Coleman) and a pregnant friend (Marlee Matlin) encourage insecure Sam to give stardom a shot, regardless of the risk.

Perhaps some part of this would be entertaining if it was actually amusing. Generally, however, the characters' actions seem forced and unconvincing. And this being a contemporary spin on Cyrano, it's predictable as well.

* "Kiss My Act" airs tonight at 8 on ABC. The network has rated it TV-14-DL (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14, with special advisories for suggestive dialogue and coarse language).

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