Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Overlooked Movies -- The Pick-up Artist

Back in the '80s Molly Ringwald was an appealing teenage actress and Robert Downey, Jr., was getting is first lead role in The Pick-up Artist.  I think this is supposed to be a romantic comedy, but you have to consider that it was written and directed by James Toback, who's not exactly known for his comedic instincts.  (Downey was in another of Toback's comedies, if you can call it that, Two Girls and a Guy, about ten years after this one.)  If you're looking for a John Hughes teen comedy here, you've come to the wrong place.

Ringwald is a young woman whose father's in trouble with the mob (gambling debts), and she needs money to help him.  Downey is the title character, a guy who never strikes out with women.  Need I tell you that Ringwald burns him?  And that they'll get together eventually?  

This is a messy movie.  It has a great cast going for it (besides the two main characters, there are Dennis Hopper, Harvey Keitel, Danny Aiello, Vanessa Williams, Robert Towne [yes, the Chinatown guy], and Lorraine Bracco in one of her first U. S. movies).  There are a few amusing moments.  The cast and those moments can't save the movie, though.  It remains, for me, an oddity from the '80s.  


Anonymous said...

That's a fair review. Toback can be infuriating, though he always manages to get good casts for his uneven (to say the least) movies.


pattinase (abbott) said...

They look so young. Especially Downey.

Todd Mason said...

Well, like my old high-school classmate Rod Lurie, who gives actors big galumphing speeches to lecture each other with, Toback gives his actors a lot of space to improvise, so that the actors are having a good time even if the audience isn't. The less-talented children of Clifford Odets and John Cassavetes.

George said...

I was in love with Molly Ringwald for years.

Anders E said...

I began watching this some years ago, but had to give it up after about half an hour. This is a movie that seemed to have no idea whatsoever what it was supposed to be. Romance? Comedy? Crime? Drama? As I recall it opted for everything and achieved bugger all. Too bad about Ringwald who was somewhat promising but after this just disappeared.

Stephen B. said...

I rented this once. I expected something like He Said, She Said, or a film like Sixteen Candles, but it was a total disappointment and had much more dark (or adult) jokes than I think was it's appearance from the film preview trailer.

Looking back, I really think calling it uneven is the most apt summary as was stated here.