MODERN ROMANCE -- AMC Carrollton, AMC Skyline, Laurel Town Center, Loehmann's Plaza, NTI Tysons Center, Roth's Parkway, Springfield Mall, West End Circle and Wheaton Plaza.

The excuse is always "It's because I love you." It serves as an explanation for sabatoging the loved one's job, riffling private papers, jealously doubting the simplest statements and alternately clinging and hurting.

Can this be called "Modern Romance?" Not if it were the woman who behaved in that fashion. A woman who harassed her lover with telephone calls at the office and broke into his business dinners would probably not be hailed as a new-era heroine to be cherished for the purity and strength of her emotion. But this film is names for the behavior of its hero.

It's the old role-reversal: Jilted fiances, nest-oriented husbands, devoted fathers and starry-eyed beaux are handled tenderly in the sweet new comedies, while protective mothers and romantic belles have shunted off to the psychological dramas.

Albert Brooks, who had seemed to have a fresher satirical eye, is as responsible for this flat joke as anyone can be, having co-written, directed and played the lead. As in his previous film, "Real Life," his specialty is deadpan reality-plus, and there are moments when it shines through.

But mostly this dreadful character just follows the predictable ups and downs of his own emotions like a high-school cheerleader, and the question is not where he's going next, but why any woman would oblige him by playing the game.