Little Darlings

Starring Tatum O'Neal and Kristy McNichol. Directed by Ronald F. Maxwell. Much of this film is unworthy of its talented stars. Tatum O'Neal is a lovely young actress, with an extraordinary amount of class. Watch her walk through a sunny field, carrying flowers in one hand, talking wistfully of love. It's a special moment.

Kristy McNichol is an equally lovely young actress, with a charm that is at once tougher and more vulnerable. Watch her go through a difficult emotional experience, laughing and crying at the same time.It's a special moment.

The distasteful story -- about teen-agers at summer camp competing to see who will lose her virginity first -- may be softened at the end by some traditional wisdom about the pitfalls of sex without love, but there are offensive and sadly trite moments along the way, compounded by some embarrassing stupidity in the screenplay.

Still, O'Neal and McNichol make a terrific team, for pathos as well as comedy. Their energy -- the energy of smart kids who aren't afraid of anything life has to offer, despite their woeful immaturity -- shines through "Little Darlings" and actually redeems the portions that aren't ruined beyond repair by sophomoric scripting and directing. Let's see them together again, in a movie that rises to their abilities!

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