on November 09, 2001 by Susan Green
   The plethora of films in recent years concerning Tourette's syndrome--“The Madness of King George,” “Twitch and Shout,” “Niagara, Niagara” “The Tic Code”--might indicate an affliction du jour. That list now includes “Maze,” co-written and directed by its star, Rob Morrow (who portrayed an attorney with the neurological disorder in another recent independent film, “Other Voices.”)

   This time out he is Lyle Maze, a sweet, talented but lonely New York artist secretly in love with his best friend's gal. Callie (the spectacular Laura Linney) is pregnant but unwilling to tell Mike (Craig Sheffer) because impending fatherhood would likely derail his plans to serve in a Doctors Without Borders overseas mission. His selflessness is therefore selfish. Lyle steps up, uncertainly, to the plate. He becomes Callie's birthing coach and, of course, no greater bond to a woman hath any man.

   The heartfelt but predictable outcome is less of a problem than the fact that Morrow has chosen to depict Lyle's Tourette episodes as a series of physical and verbal anomalies accompanied on screen in every instance by blurred vision. This is supposed to ensure that we share his point of view but such repetition eventually hits the audience over the head with it.

   A backstory involves Lyle's intolerant father (Robert Hogan), who has always been repulsed by his son's involuntary anti-social behavior. People with Tourette's syndrome, which was first identified in 1885, were once publicly flogged or burned at the stake or committed to asylums. Lyle is merely shunned.

   Although segregating anyone with disruptive twitches makes little sense, it is equally absurd to suggest their actions are so normal as to go unnoticed. The film's most wrongheaded scene takes place when Callie, the one person who accepts him unconditionally, mimics Lyle's shouting while she is in the throes of delivering a baby. Starring Rob Morrow, Laura Linney, Craig Sheffer, Gia Carides, Robert Hogan and Rose Gregorio. Directed by Rob Morrow. Written by Rob Morrow and Bradley White. Produced by Paul Colichman, Mark R. Harris, Stephen P. Jarchow and Rob Morrow. An Andora release. Drama. Rated R for language and nudity. Running time: 96 min

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