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  justtheticket.jpg (7245 bytes)

Just the Ticket

Starring Andie Garcia, Andie MacDowell and Richard Branford
Written and Directed by Richard Wenk

IN SHORT: A sweet story, but long. [114 minutes, Rated [R] ]

Andie MacDowell and Andy Garcia make a lovely couple. There's a good chemistry between the pair that let's you slip right into the characters they play, even if you've seen the frustrated couple who will be together by the end of the movie story again and again. That's the case with Just The Ticket which really needs one more pass through the editor's block to trim about 20 minutes of fat. The story is good, the performances are good -- there's one exceptional perf which I'll get to -- but writer/director Richard Wenk falls to a problem I've written about before. He's so close to the his script wrote that the director's impulse to cut is reigned in. That one failure keeps Just the Ticket from being a great movie. It'll have to settle for above average.

Dead center of the story is a loveable band of ticket scalpers, whose lives are about to change when a new man takes over their territory. Face it folk, we love adorable "villains" (which is the technical term for scalpers) and Gary Starke (Garcia) dances through this world like Fred Astaire in a ballroom. He's a great salesman who is so self-centered that he can't keep a date with the woman of his dreams, a would be chef named Linda (MacDowell). She can't keep the guy out of her life. She can't dump him 'cuz he keeps coming back. It's Garcia's winning way with a word and a smile that keeps this foundering relationship interesting to watch.

The scalpers are a family unto themselves, with Gary as top dog and pseudo-daddy. He watches over the very pregnant Rhonda (Laura Harris) and protects the aging and punch drunk Benny (Richard Branford) who, it is said (but not believed) once worked as cornerman for Smokin' Joe Frazier. The backstory is that Gary's worked the street since he was 13. Linda wants him off it. She wants him to take some "real" responsibility for his life, but he's always managed to avoid that. When it is announced that the Pope is coming to New York to celebrate a Mass at Yankee stadium, Gary's eyes turn to dollar signs. The profits from scalping these tickets, if he can get his hands on them, will finance his way out of the streets. But a new dealer, named Casino (André Blake), is in the way. Overnight, all the ticket sources dry up and Gary is in for the fight of his life.

Linda, in the meanwhile, has gotten a new boyfriend and has been accepted to study at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, which will help make the break with Gary a clean one. Gary, of course, isn't about to let this happen.

Garcia's acting connection to the supporting characters is fun to watch, whether he's checking up on Rhonda to make sure she stays clean or defending Benny when it looks like the old man is slipping and putting the entire operation in jeopardy. Outstanding among the performers is Richard Branford as Benny. With little to go on his character really connects with the audience. The father/son play between Branford and Garcia is a lovely thing to watch and, as this particular subplot winds up, you really do feel for the characters.

Wenk devotes too much screen time to Garcia being loveable. The stories running here, and there are at least four of 'em, are well thought out and distinctive but diminished by said loveable-ness.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Just the Ticket, he would have paid...


Date flick leaning towards wait-to-snuggle-up-and-rent-it, so you can get past the slow parts. That extra running time makes all the difference in the world.

click to buy Just the Ticket vhs lbx dvd

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