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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap88.89%

1 review, 3 user ratings

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Lookin' to Get Out
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jack Sommersby

"The Audience Should Definitely Look 'Out'"
1 stars

Critically lambasted, this box-office bomb was kept on the shelf for two years, and for damn good reason.

If there's anything worse than a cinematic abomination, it's an excellently-lighted cinematic abomination to remind one that the talented cinematographer involved would've been far better off contributing his efforts to a much more worthy project. The movie in question is Lookin' to Get Out, and the cameraman the celebrated Haskell Wexler, whose illustrious resume includes everything from Medium Cool to Matewan to Other People's Money, and who gives the Las Vegas interiors and exteriors here a high-grade professionalism that the material in no way, shape or form even remotely deserves. The story starts out in New York City, where we're introduced to two compulsive-gambling losers Alex Kovac (Jon Voight) and Jerry Feldman (Burt Young), the former of whom has won a fifteen-thousand horse-racing trifecta, paid the six thousand he owes to a foul-tempered gambling-den owner, and then, thinking lady luck is still on his side, gambles the rest in a game of poker and winds up not only losing the remaining nine thousand but walking out the door owing ten thousand to the very same man. Dead-broke, they hop a plane to Las Vegas (the money for the tickets?), where the manipulative Alex succeeds in scoring them a luxury suite at the city's best hotel/casino as guests of the owner of the establishment who's away on business (why Jerry's name would be on the list for people to receive free-comp isn't explained); with a generous line of credit in the five-figures, Alex figures a way to end all their troubles -- after encountering an old-time ace gambler reduced to working as a bellboy, Alex stakes the man with ten-thousand dollars for a private-table blackjack game. Naturally, there are some unforeseen troubles along the way: the foul-tempered man Alex owes money to has also hopped on a plane to Vegas with his muscled henchman (how he knows to look for Alex at this particular hotel, we don't know); and a former flame of Alex's, Patti (Ann-Margret), who's in a relationship with the hotel owner, berates him on his irresponsible ways and casually informs him she has a six-year-old daughter (being that she hasn't seen Alex in five years, we know of course that the child must be his). And it all culminates in a high-stakes Big Game with a half-million-dollar pot and more groan-inducing plot contrivances than one can count. (If the movie took place in a pinball machine, it'd constantly go Tilt!)

The best thing that can be said for Lookin' to Get Out is that it's only marginally better than the execrable Bette Midler Vegas-set Jinxed! from the same year. There, that first-rate action director Don Siegel floundered in an attempt to function in an altogether different genre; here, the director is the mediocre Hal Ashby, whose only good feature was the well-written The Last Detail, and whose technical skills have left a lot to be desired -- the very opposite of the auteur easily-impressed critics have labeled him as, he's incapable of digging in and bringing anything out of a lackluster screenplay. Which is especially problematic in that Lookin' to Get Out was co-written by Voight, a debut effort for him and a debacle of a one, at that, with sloppy plotting, second-rate characterizations, and zero narrative structure -- the whole thing seems to have been compiled in a mixing bowl. With the exception of one good line ("It's called negative financing; countries do this"), the dialogue has the kind of generalized blandness you get in TV sitcoms, and with the implausibility factor at an all-time high (our two pathetic heroes are chased through the hotel by the two uninteresting villains several times yet never once is security alerted, even when the henchman stabs Alex's hand with an ice pick right in plain view of a bartender), and Ashby's inability at staging a single expressive scene all too apparent, all we have to make due with, with the exception of Wexler's virtuosic contribution, is the acting, and even here the quality is in very short supply. Voight is usually welcome, usually superb (Midnight Cowboy, Conrack), but his live-wire, rat-a-tat performance as the uncouth Alex is so overwrought that you're likely to find yourself backing away from the screen. Turbulent, wildly waving his arms around like semaphores, mugging as if he were in an avant-garde off-off-Broadway production, Voight becomes monotonous after a mere fifteen minutes, and quintessentially grating after the thirty-minute mark. (Was it because he had a hand in the writing that Ashby allowed him to emote to the nth degree? Voight was much better as the wheelchair-bound Vietnam vet in Ashby's Coming Home.) He can't get anything of a rhythm going with Young because of his isolating capital-A acting, and even without Voight, Young has to weather an embarrassing bit where he takes off his pants in front of Patti when they're alone because he mistakenly thinks she's a prostitute. (A laugh riot, no?) With Richard Bradford, as the tolerant hotel owner, and Bert Remsen, as the duplicitous gambler Alex stakes, giving the puerile proceedings some much-needed class.

For the certifiable nutcases who regard this malodorous movie well, the DVD has more special features than far better movies stuck on bare-bones releases.

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originally posted: 05/22/14 03:09:41
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User Comments

8/10/04 Ashley Great! 5 stars
4/29/04 Jack Sommersby Irredeemably awful. Poorly conceived & executed. A game cast criminally wasted. 1 stars
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  02-Aug-1982 (R)



Directed by
  Hal Ashby

Written by
  Al Schwartz
  Jon Voight

  Jon Voight
  Burt Young
  Bert Remsen
  Jude Farese
  Allen Keller

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