Cinema: Forced Entry

Enter Laughing. Carl Reiner's autobiographical novel about a stage-struck Jewish boy's first taste of ham was one of the delights of Broadway in 1963, thanks to Joseph Stein's knowing dramatization and to a winning performance by Alan Arkin as the fumbling hero. Now Reiner has directed a film version that sticks closely to the words of the play but destroys much of its sly insight into the dawning of awareness in darkest Bronx.

Arkin used the whole man to embody adolescent chutzpah; Newcomer Reni Santoni seems able to draw on only a pout here and a wiggled eyebrow there, which is far...

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