Owen Gleiberman
August 11, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Tic Code

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
90 minutes
performer
Polly Draper, Gregory Hines
director
Gary Winick
author
Polly Draper
genre
Drama

We gave it a B

As Miles, an angelic 12-year-old who plays a wizardly jazz piano and fights a daily war with his Tourette’s syndrome, the remarkable young actor Christopher George Marquette is required to twitch, grimace, roll his eyes, contort his mouth, and blurt out the occasional blasphemous thought. The triumph of his performance is that he melds these herky-jerky ”tics” together with an almost musical fluidity, so that they seem to emanate from a single force, as if he had a small tornado of feeling roiling around inside him.

Miles is paired with Tyrone (Gregory Hines), a professional saxophone player and dream father figure who also has Tourette’s, and who has spent his life in a quiet rage about it. Written by Polly Draper, who costars as Miles’ mother and who based the film on the experiences of her jazz-musician husband, Michael Wolff, The Tic Code is badly lit and, at times, awkwardly inspirational, yet there’s real feeling in it, especially when the movie suggests that Tourette’s syndrome is every bit as pure an expression of the spirit as it is a ”disorder.” B

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