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PERIPHERAL VISIONS

I LOVE YOU, DON'T TOUCH ME (R) 86 min. _ People with escalating Seinfeld withdrawal may glean something of value from Julie Davis' debut film, shot on a shoestring with a cast of unknowns who'll likely stay that way. The most extraordinary thing about this bawdy extended sitcom is that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer decided it was a better investment than everything else in the independent film world.

I Love You, Don't Touch Me is a movie patterned after its central character, which means it's tailored for 25-year-old virgins or those who want to be. Katie (Marla Schlaffel) wants to find Mr. Perfect, but the candidates aren't Mr. Right. Mr. Right is within reach because he's the lumpy guy (Mitchell Whitfield), who openly pines for Katie. The result is an awareness that even independent filmmakers can succumb to Hollywood convention when the chips are down.

Katie's shallow outlook on life and love conflicts with Schlaffel's obvious screen appeal. Viewers know all they need to know about Katie from an early shot of the tattoo on her derriere. It used to be the name of her boyfriend Ted, but after he dumped her, she added two letters to make it read "Hated." It's the final clever touch in a movie that has 80 minutes to go.

That sort of self-loathing for laughs quickly gets stale, as Katie and her various one-dimensional acquaintances swap carefully crafted bon mots that don't sound the way anyone actually speaks. "I feel like I'm in a Henry Jaglom movie," an actor whines at one point. If you've ever endured Jaglom's self-indulgent tedium, you know what that means, but call attention to the similarities? All the movie needs are some of those scrambling bass riffs that link together Seinfeld's misadventures. Plus the laughs.

Opens today at Northdale Court 6 only. D

_ STEVE PERSALL

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