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The Pick-Up Artist

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In 1987, 20th Century Fox released the movie "Predator". We all know the plot of how a deadly alien comes to Earth and decimates a group of soldiers in the jungles of South America. That same year, Fox released a movie about a predator of a different kind. His name is Jack Jericho (Downey Jr.) and he is a pick-up artist.

What is a pick-up artist? It was the 80s term for player. It's somebody who cadges phone numbers off of gorgeous women, hooks up for some good times and then cuts bait in search for the next big catch (I would use a different term, but this is a family site). Jack is one of the best at what he does. Although he's perpetually short on cash and constantly tending to his grandmother Nellie (Dunnock), he's managed to cultivate an air of richness and power.

One night he makes a play for a bubble-headed blonde named Lulu (Jackson) who warns him about her boyfriend. His name is Alonzo Scolara (Keitel) and he's a major mobster. He's always shaking down people for cash and his latest target is a beautiful yet worldly 19-year-old woman named Randy Jensen (Ringwald). She works as a tour guide at the Museum Of Natural History in order to finance her gambling addiction and protect her father Flash (Hopper) from falling further into the abyss of alcoholism. Randy and Jack begin a friendship...Actually, it's more like a romance based on denial. Jack is willing to scrap his entire list of women's phone numbers because of his puppy-like affection for her. He'll even take on Randy's debt to Alonzo in order to win her love. Does he or doesn't he?

I know these types like the back of my hand. The reason? I'm sort of one myself. I don't look for romance anymore, though...Now I cadge e-mail addresses (The modern version of the phone number) for the sake of wanting friendship. Jack, on the other hand, is out on the prowl for new temporary girlfriends. He is definitely a predator. He isn't an "ugly mother..." who'll slice your head off with a bladed discus. He is, instead, a not-all-that-attractive sleaze who'll mess with your head. He'll compare you to the works of great artists, even though he knows as much about art as I do about the works of Shakespeare. He'll say that you're perfect, a dream come true, a rare beauty, ad nauseam, ad infinitum, forever and ever amen. He'll say the things you want to hear and then discard you like the tissues you cry into at the end of "Beaches".

Still, the right girl can change everything. There's a saying...Birds of a feather flock together. Randy is the kind of girl who you wouldn't suspect would be Jack's perfect match. She starts out as vaguely nerdy but then becomes a woman who can match him word-for-word and line-for-line. She gambles on horses and cards...He gambles on his reputation and his looks. When two young gamblers meet, it's natural that they'll take chances on each other's lives...Each other, period.

Interestingly, this is another romantic comedy with an open ending, much like "Crossing Delancey". Randy and Jack get together at the end, but it leaves you to draw your own conclusions...

Verdict?

This is one of those movies that I call an "ice cream movie". It's a movie that's sweet... Maybe just a bit too intense at times, though. Although quite enjoyable, there's one major factor that puts this movie at an 8... There's not enough Molly Ringwald. She got top billing but this seems more like a Robert Downey Jr. movie than a Molly Ringwald movie. I would have to say that Molly is just a little bit of a cipher. She appear to be playing "straight man" to Downey's lines.

Also, although this movie is rated PG-13, there are a few phrases and scenes that push the rating (then again, this was written and directed by James Toback, who isn't exactly a PG-13 kind of person).

Although it could've been a little better, I don't hesitate to say that you should at least give it a rental.

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Toback wrote some great lines. Dennis Hopper is a good comic actor also. Finally, Ringwald looks great...

Weaknesses? Unfortunately, we don't see enough of her. Perhaps she should've made nice with John Hughes, whom she fought with after "Pretty In Pink".

Our rating: 8 out of 10


Review Written by John Edward Kilduff:  Contact  |  More Reviews by John Edward Kilduff
The Pick-Up Artist