As a writer (THE GAMBLER) and director (FINGERS; LOVE AND MONEY; EXPOSED), James Toback has been preoccupied with the seductive qualities of money and women. While Toback's previous films have been serious and intensely passionate--and sometimes unintentionally ludicrous--THE THE PICK-UP
ARTIST tries to recast his usual obsessions in a light, relatively sanitized narrative intended for family audiences. The pick-up artist is Jack Jericho (Robert Downey), a self-confident womanizer who practices pick-up lines while standing before his bathroom mirror. His interest, however, is not
in finding the perfect love but merely in testing his pick-up technique. One day he tries his line on Randy Jensen (Molly Ringwald), who is his perfect match: she has a comeback for every line and is even more aggressive than he. Jericho falls for her but finds that her father (Dennis Hopper) is
an unexpected complication. While there are some effective moments, the movie often becomes downright embarrassing. When Toback concentrates on the Jericho character, the film comes alive; but when the weight shifts to the gambling-underworld connection, it falls into cliche-ridden parody. The
film is carried by Downey, appearing in his first starring role. Ringwald, while performing adequately, just doesn't seem right for the part. Toback has devised an interesting premise that draws parallels between risking one's heart and one's wallet, but the picture itself risks little.
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