Picks and Pans Review: The Pick-Up Artist

updated 10/12/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/12/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Like the title character, who spends a lot of time flirting with girls but never really sleeps with them, this Warren Beatty-produced movie is a tease. The first half is entertaining, though even feeble attempts at promiscuity seem anachronistic for a film set in the safe-sex '80s. Robert (Back to School) Downey, as the aspiring pick-up artist, races around Manhattan's Upper West Side from one girl to another, accompanied by snappy dialogue and a barrage of golden oldies (some of these tunes—Da Doo Ron Ron, for example—are played more on movie sound tracks these days than they were when they were new). But the tables are turned when he runs into Molly Ringwald. Her willingness to give up her body helps Downey get past the point of no return, but she doesn't see him as a long-term prospect and won't give him her phone number. Dumbfounded, Downey follows her home to Coney Island, where she lives with her alcoholic gambler father, Dennis Hopper, who may have played one too many losers lately. When Ringwald goes to Atlantic City to try to win the $25,000 that Hopper owes hood Harvey Keitel, writer-director James (Exposed) Toback seems to lose control. Downey shows up and asks Ringwald if he can help. The sudden transformation to thoughtful suitor lets all the air out of Downey's pumped-up charm, which only fitfully had been keeping the movie afloat. By the time it comes to its comically implausible end, with everybody vowing to mend their ways, the film has deteriorated at a rate inversely proportional to the characters' moral regeneration. The Pick-up Artist ultimately just lets you down. (PG-13)

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