February 06, 1989 12:00 PM

Nearing 50, Nolte has weathered well. Adept at comedy (48 HRS.), romance (The Deep) and drama (Weeds), he now takes on a challenge Gable dodged until 1960’s It Started in Naples: stealing scenes from a kid. She’s Sarah Rowland Doroff, 6, playing a tyke who hasn’t uttered a word since her mom died two years ago. Her dippy dad, Martin (Innerspace) Short, tries to rob a bank to pay for her special schooling. It’s during the holdup that Short meets Nolte, a thief just out of the pen and aiming to go straight. Nolte ends up helping nerdy father and needy daughter. French writer-director Francis Veber, Americanizing his Gallic hit Les Fugitifs, resorts to every cheap and exhausting trick to keep the audience lathered up for laughter and tears. But Nolte, praise be, manfully refuses to blubber-even when Doroff squeaks, “Don’t go,” into his tough-guy kisser. Frankly, my dears, you won’t give a damn about the movie. But the no-nonsense Nolte is worth consideration as the new man around the house at Tara. (PG-13)

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