Picks and Pans Review: Street Smart
A dubious title for a dumb movie. Assuming a know-it-all attitude about how the underworld and the media operate in the Big Apple, the plot actually is naive. Directed by Jerry (Panic in Needle Park) Schatzberg from a script by David (First Love) Freeman, the film is as authentic as the Montreal locations that stand in for Manhattan. We're asked to buy Christopher (Superman 1, 2, 3 and, soon, 4) Reeve as a street reporter for a weekly magazine something like New York. Trying to pander to the sleazy tastes of his editor, camped to a fare-thee-well by Andre Gregory, Reeve sells a story idea about 24 hours in the life of a pimp. But there's a hitch: No pimp will talk with him. Even a hooker, pertly played by theater actress Kathy (Fool For Love) Baker, tells him lies about working free-lance. In despair he uses his own uptown girlfriend, Mimi (Gung Ho) Rogers, as a lure. But Reeve just can't procure any procurers. So he does the next best thing—as the Washington Post's Pulitzer prizewinner (and loser) Janet Cooke did—and makes up the story. In no time Reeve is a media sensation, moving from print to TV as the new Geraldo Rivera of the evening news. Then an assistant district attorney, played by Jay Patterson, thinks that Reeve's phony pimp is the very real killer (a scary Morgan Freeman) he's trying to indict for murder. Patterson demands that Reeve turn over his nonexistent notes. Reeve wrestles with his conscience. We know this because he furrows his brow a lot. The chuckle-head then sleeps with the hooker, apparently not having heard of unsafe sex. His excuse to Rogers is: "It didn't mean anything. It just kinda happened." Many trashy movies of this ilk, at least the unpretentious ones, get off the hook with audiences on a similar plea bargain. In this case the court does not recommend leniency. Street Smart should be sentenced to cable TV, followed quickly by obscurity. (R)
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