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Brigitte Nielsen is a favorite target of movie and TV critics who take glee in panning her performances, sending the statuesque actress laughing all the way to the bank.

When reviewers straffed her most recent TV appearance in "Murder by Moonlight," she shrugged and said, "Wow, did they do a number on me or what?"I don't care," she said. "People tuned in to see it and that's all that counts."

Nielsen, 24, hopes they won't be as rough on her performance in the new movie "Bye Bye Baby," in which she gets top billing over Carol Alt and Italian leading man Luca Barbareschi.

She refuses to take show business as seriously as do the critics. To her, last month's film or last year's film is just last month's film or last year's film.

She and fiance Mark Gastineau, the New York Jets star, walked into Le Dome restaurant (her favorite) on Sunset Boulevard looking like the New York Trade Center, dwarfing everything and everyone in the place.

At 6-foot-5, Gastineau appeared only marginally taller than Nielsen, but she was wearing heels.

"We hope to be married soon," she said.

"Within the next month or so," he said.

Nielsen's role in "Bye Bye Baby" is altogether different from the Amazon parts she played in such films as "Red Sonja."

"In this movie I play an emotional woman, a totally down-to-earth girl," she said. "She's more real. Not a gratuitous part like I've done before.

"Her passion is playing pool. She's a pool shark. That happens to be my own hobby. Mark and I have a pool table at home and we play all the time, sometimes until 3 in the morning.

"I'm really good at it. I can even beat Mark."

Only, Gastineau said, when she runs the table before he has a chance to play.

The exchange led to friendly bickering over who was the better player.

Nielsen returned to the subject of her film, saying, "It's a very simple romantic comedy. It was released first in Europe, where it was well-received, and now they are releasing it in this country.

"It's fun playing a more feminine part. I can identify more with a woman of passion and emotion than with a cartoon character. Who knows what a cartoon feels?

"A tall woman can be just as feminine as a petite woman. If they gave me a script that called for a cuddly woman, I could do that too. Being cuddly has nothing to do with size."

Nielsen said women her size appreciate the protective instinct of the men in their lives as much as their smaller sisters.

She looked at Gastineau and said, "Mark is larger than anybody. It is easy for him to be protective of me.

"Certain men get intimidated and insecure around me. They can never get over the fact that I am taller than they are, but it really shouldn't matter.

"When you are my height there are some matches that just can't be made. For instance, I admire Michael J. Fox, but there is no way we could have a romance. No way.

"I'm in love with Mark for who he is, not because he is much bigger than I am. He's my cookie. Inside, he's a teddy bear. He's not what he looks like . . ."