Let It Ride
Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, David Johansen
Richard Dreyfuss has made popular movies where he plays
an overall likable
fellow, but for much of his career, he has made a number of movies
he plays brash, unlikable characters that are usually comic foils
in a pseudo supporting role. Some of these movies where he plays such a
character have been hits with audiences, like What About Bob?,
but for the most part, audiences have stayed away from these movies.
is probably because audiences don't want to spend an hour and a half
a creep. (What About Bob?'s popularity seems to come from
the fact that his hateful character gets "punished" throughout the
and audiences always love to see someone get what's coming to him.)
Dreyfuss' character in Let It Ride is not unlikable, the
movie bombed in a big way neverless. My theory is that the advertising
campaign destroyed the chances of the movie becoming a big hit. The
on the poster (reproduced on the video box) read: "He drinks. He
He gambles. He curses. He thinks about committing adultery. You'll love
him." I'm sure people reading that tagline concluded that Dreyfuss
be grating, and therefore stayed away. Too bad, because Let It
a zippy and very funny movie, with Dreyfuss playing a character who
be a little naughty, but is likable throughout neverless.
This character is named Jay Trotter, a taxi driver who's
not just a
compulsive gambler, but the unluckiest gambler that you can imagine. At
the beginning of the movie, he and his wife have pledged to each make
to save their rocky marriage, with Jay pledging to cut his gambling.
that same night, a fellow taxi driver gives him information about a
bet" for next morning's horse race that he overheard from a passenger.
Jay can't resist, stating, "This isn't gambling! Gambling includes
This is just taking advantage of an extraordinary business
and he heads to the track the next morning. He feels "different" that
and after winning the initial bet, he subsequently makes more bets, and
finds himself having an incredible winning streak. But will it last?
the "dark forces" out there stop his progression? And what happens if
wife finds out he's at the track?
Dreyfuss is in almost every shot in the movie, so he has
a large burden
to carry. And he manages to pull it off. He is careful to make Jay
into a likable character. Sure, he gambles, smokes, drinks, and curses
(he doesn't really seem to think of committing adultery, though), but
sense that he's had a hard luck life, and we can forgive him for his
and root for him to succeed. But most importantly, Dreyfuss' character
is funny in many different ways. We see him praying a pleading prayer
God in a toilet stall, whining to God to please please please make this
his luckiest day. He shrieks with joy, snaps his fingers constantly,
makes incredible frenzied moves with his body, not caring at all what
thinks of him. His reasoning also is hilarious; at one point in the
he figures that he'll have nothing left after he spends his winnings on
a big celebration party and twelve years worth of rent. Another scene
lecture a fellow gambler, "In order to have a bad feeling, you need to
have a good feeling first - so you have no frame of reference!!!"
When he bumps into many of the weird characters he meets during the
we hear his rapid thoughts as he makes mental calculations of how much
money they make every minutehourdayweekandyear.
Besides Jay, there are a lot of other eccentric
characters running around.
Robbie Coltrane, as the man in the ticket booth, has repeated run-ins
Jay, and his changing behavior towards Jay is both funny and
Two crooked horse dealers have a hilarious conversation with Jay when both
are obviously lying to each other, yet both sides know the other is
- still, they keep lying to each other. Garr has a small but amusing
as Jay's long-suffering wife, and has one of the funniest scenes when
asks a simple question and gets an unexpected response. But favorite
is "Cheeseburger", who shares with Jay two of the funniest scenes in
movie, one where he mocks Jay, and later when he gives Jay a "reward"
I doubt would be a welcome reward in anyone's mind.
Joe Pytka, an award-winning director of commercials who
later went on
to co-direct the hotly debated Space Jam, made his
debut here. Though his commercials were fast paced, filled with quick
and lots of special effects, he wisely restrains himself here. It's
funnier to have one element of near-craziness (Jay) in a sea of more or
less normality, than have everything and everyone crazy. He does put in
energy and stunts, but only at key moments, such as when Jay is racing
to the ticket window before it closes, while jumping over people and
on the floor. Almost all of the movie takes place at the race track,
Pytka takes us everywhere on the property (washrooms, bars, the
the basement, etc.), so we are never bored. In fact, we get a very good
idea of the workings at a racetrack, including how the track is run,
kind of people that frequent the establishment, and the activities
and workers are usually involved in. And Pytka keeps up throughout the
movie the sunny, feel-good mood he generates. When Jay says "I'm having
a very good day," near the end of the movie, viewers will be feeling
like what he's feeling. If you want to watch a comedy where you'll feel
good watching up to when the closing credits begin, and you also want
have a lot of good laughs, put this movie in your VCR and let it ride.
for availability on Amazon (VHS)
for availability on Amazon (Download)
for availability on Amazon (DVD)
Check for availability of original source novel "Good Vibes"
Also: I Wonder Who's Killing
Her Now, Amanda And The Alien, Flush