Serial pick-up artist and commitment-phobe Jack Jericho (Robert Downey Jr.) takes lessons in the art of seduction from aging player Phil Harper (Danny Aiello). Jack finds a formidable opponent in Randy Jensen (Molly Ringwald), a fiery tour guide who has a retort for his every line. Though she initially spurns his advances, Jack finds a way in when Randy’s alcoholic, compulsive gambler father, Flash (Dennis Hopper), ends up in serious debt and deep trouble with gangsters in Atlantic City.
Initial release: September 18, 1987
Director: James Toback
Screenplay: James Toback
Box office: 13.29 million USD
Producers: Warren Beatty, David Leigh MacLeod
I have seen nearly every Molly Ringwald film from the 80s, and when I first stumbled upon this particular film, I was curious why I had never heard of it. Well now I know, it’s because this movie is awful! With a cast of Molly and Robert Downey Jr. I thought this would be a phenomenal film, and while the acting was mostly impressive, the writing was AWFUl. The actors tried their best to make a badly written script better, but the plot was still all over the place and pointless. This was definitely a film I had to force myself to watch all the way through.
I’m not sure why this film is even called the pickup artist because twenty minutes into the film Robert Downey Jr’s character already falls for the girl and gives up his player lifestyle. Instead, this film is less of a romantic comedy and more of a gangster film, in the sense that Ringwald’s dad owes a gang boss some money and Downy Dr. vows to help. This is the fundamental conflict of the film, and it has nothing to do with the lighthearted pickup comedy I thought this film would be.
The plot of this film was so confusing as a whole. In the film Downey mistakes Ringwald’s father for her boyfriend, and she doesn’t correct him till the end of the film. With how all over the place and inconsistent the plot was, I honestly found myself confused if this character was Ringwald’s dad or boyfriend. This is just one example of how the plot was a little confusing and inconsistent.
After watching this film, I did some research into its background. I found out that the writer/ director was trying to tie in roles the actors had played in other films into this one. Which is why I think this film did so well during its release in the 80s? Because the audience understood its references. However, the film has definitely not aged well, and this just made it hard for a modern day audience to follow.
One impressive thing about this film was the soundtrack. From the first song, the soundtrack was transformative and brought me back to the 80s. However, overall the audio recordings of this film were very sub par. Several times the audio was quiet and hard to hear compared to the background music, and there was lots of background and white noise.
2 out of 10
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