Picks and Pans Review: The Sting Ii

UPDATED 03/14/1983 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/14/1983 at 01:00 AM EST

The closest this sequel comes to the good-natured cleverness and bright spirit of its progenitor is the few bars of the Sting theme, Scott Joplin's The Entertainer, which are played over the opening credits. After that, this is just another sorry attempt to capitalize on the popularity of a big hit. The heroes again are a pair of sympathetically drawn drifters, but instead of Paul Newman's eyes, sly and sparkling blue, there are Jackie Gleason's, tired and bloodshot; instead of Robert Redford's smile, cheery and smart, there is Mac Davis', wan and disinterested. The plot involves another complicated scam, this one centering on a fixed boxing match featuring Davis. While a lot of the fun of the original came from the audience's being conned along with the villains, however, there are so many twists here that they become almost predictable. The movie's only moments of flash come from Teri Garr, as a snappy con woman, and Jose Perez (who played God in the PBS production of Steambath), as a dedicated hit man working for Oliver Reed. Director Jeremy Paul (The Chosen) Kagan and scriptwriter David S. Ward, who wrote the original Sting screenplay, probably faced an impossible task; the Newman-Redford chemistry can't really be duplicated. But they could have turned this film in a different direction instead of turning out a clumsy counterfeit that is a real-life con game involving the ticket buyer. (PG)

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