"Alan and Naomi" means so well that you feel like Simon Legree or Pauline Kael in not caring for it. But there it is, earnest and "humanitarian" and pretty dull.
Set in a flimsily evoked Brooklyn of 1944 (actually the Wilmington, N.C., of 1991) it's the story of young Alan Silverman, who wants nothing more than to play stickball with his Irish pal Shaun Kelly. Alas, a Holocaust refugee and her deeply traumatized daughter move in next door, and Alan's strong, rather oppressively do-gooding mother decides that henceforth Alan will devote his spare time to nursing this poor child back to humanity.
Alan resents, but grimly does his duty, and the movie somewhat glibly summarizes Alan's brilliant program of therapy as he nurses Naomi back to health in about seven or eight minutes. The film in some sense brings to mind Frank Perry's haunting but much more vivid mind-drama of the late '50s, "David and Lisa," also about two lonely and disturbed adolescents brought back to health. It's just that Perry's film was so much better.