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Picks and Pans Review: I Was a Teenage Faust

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Show of the week

Showtime (Sun., Dec. 15, 8 p.m. ET )

The title isn’t all that’s funny about this family-oriented TV movie from writer-director Thorn Eberhardt. In fact Teenage Faust is such a pleasant surprise that I’m even able to forgive Eberhardt for his 1992 big-screen turkey Captain Ron.

Mr. Five (Robert Townsend), an inept minion of the devil (Stuart Margolin), confers instant coolness on Brendan (Josh Zuckerman), a nerdy Indiana teenager, in exchange for the kid’s immortal soul. Brendan insists on a free trial period, however, during which he realizes that Twyla Day (Caroline Elliott), his ultrapopular dream girl, actually desires an uncool guy. Whenever the farce seems about to flag, you can count on hearing a strong laugh line. “I need to prove to Twyla Day that deep, deep down inside I really am a dork,” Brendan tells best buddy Tom (scene stealer Noel Fisher). “Then be a dork,” Tom replies. “It’s pretty easy.”

BOTTOM LINE: Devil of a good time