As long as this film sticks to what its title suggests, The Pick-Up Artist is a tolerably amusing comedy. But as soon as the compulsive skirt-chaser gets hooked on one girl, James Toback’s long-gestating portrait of a one-track mind becomes bogged down in unconvincing plot mechanics.
Opening reels possess considerable buoyancy and zip, as makeout king Robert Downey cruises the streets of New York trying out his shtick on every pretty woman who crosses his path. Downey hits on Ringwald and quickly scores in his convertible, but predictably becomes intrigued by her apparent lack of interest in seeing him again.
Suddenly, he’s got blinders on and finds himself assuming personal responsibility for some enormous gambling debts the mob expects delivered by high noon. Dennis Hopper once again plays a drunken, washed-up shell of his former self as Ringwald’s irresponsible father, and Harvey Keitel is the threatening collector.
More responsible for the picture’s deterioration than the unnecessary melodrama is Ringwald’s thinly conceived character. Toback never lets the viewer in on what she really thinks and feels. Downey, in his first starring role, is brashly likeable, if perhaps too young, as the indefatigable but sincere ladies’ man.
Warren Beatty developed the project and was listed as producer during shooting, but producer-of-record credit goes to Beatty’s cousin, David L. MacLeod.