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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 7/30/02

Let it Ride
1989 (2001) - Paramount

review by Graham Greenlee of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Let it Ride Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/C-

Specs and Features
90 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual layered (layer switch at ???), Amaray keep case packaging, behind-the-scenes featurette, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (13 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Close Captioned

"I'm having a VERY good day!"

I have always taken to films that concentrate more on characters than plot. After all, great characters and, in turn, great performances can redeem even the most mediocre plot. Let it Ride is a little known film that I think demonstrates this point very well. Like two other great comedies of the late 1980's: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and A Fish Called Wanda, Let it Ride works solely on the fact that the characters are not only hilarious but lovable as well. Unlike those other comedies, Let it Ride bombed at the box office. But thanks to Paramount's surprising release of this movie on DVD, coupled with the great cast lead by Richard Dreyfuss, Let it Ride may finally find an audience.

Jay Trotter (Dreyfuss) is a taxi driver by night and a compulsive gambler by day. He spends most of the money he makes from his job on the tracks, and is lucky enough to come back with a few dollars left in his pocket. But despite the promise he makes to his wife, Pam (Teri Garr), Trotter decides to go back to the tracks one day after his best friend and fellow cab driver Looney (David Johansen) overhears a conversation between two horse owners claiming that there is a "sure thing" in the first race the next day.

Of course, Trotter doesn't think this is gambling, because gambling involves risk, and there's no risk in a sure thing. He wins the first race, and his $100 bet pays off to $750. Ready to call it in, he decides to push his luck in the next race. And after winning that one as well, he's convinced that luck is on his side at last. Over the course of the day, Trotter meets pickpockets, gold diggers and other low lives that become increasingly hopeful that Trotter, for once, will get his day.

The one thing you can say about Let it Ride is that it has heart. It's a film that cares very much for its protagonists, and seems very innocent about its subject matter. Its heart is best personified by Jennifer Tilly's sweet gold digger, Vicky, who's is very Marilyn Monroe-ish and promises by the end of the film that she'll only marry for love and not money. In fact, this is the best Jennifer Tilly performance I've ever seen, and her "unique" voice lends itself well to the character. Also good is Robbie Coltraine as a begrudging betting booth operator.

Again, Let it Ride was never a successful film, which makes it even more surprising that's it's been given a video and audio transfer that's a bit above average on DVD. Film grain is almost undetectable in numerous scenes and only pops up in the smokier bar scenes. I was also unable to detect any compression artifacts. The colors are a bit mudded and the entire transfer seemed a bit dark, but for a thirteen year-old bomb, this is a very good transfer (and it's 16x9 enhanced too).

There are three audio tracks, including a new 5.1 remix. The soundscape is a bit wider on the 5.1 mix - the music and score is a spread out a little more to the surrounds and there are occasional environmental effects (such as race track announcements). However, the surrounds don't get used as much as they should, and the mix isn't as enveloping as it could be. Still, fidelity on both the 5.1 and 2.0 tracks is quite good and dialogue is perfectly understandable.

Extras are, unsurprisingly, thin. Included are the theatrical trailer (non-anamorphic and a bit dark) and the normal EPK "behind the scenes" featurette (also non-anamorphic).

If you've never heard of Let it Ride before, you may want to give it a rent, as it's quite a touching little comedy. Like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and A Fish Called Wanda, Let it Ride is a film that you can watch over and over and still be entertained after the fiftieth-or-so viewing.

Graham Greenlee

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