It's no surprise to find Andy Garcia's name among the producers' credits when the end credits for Just The Ticket roll. It's the first film off the production line from his Cineson company and - - surprise - - it's less an ensemble piece, more a two-hour ad for the charms of its leading man.
Given the attraction he holds for female cinemagoers, Garcia's lime-light hogging wouldn't be such a problem, especially as he gives a solid performance. However, he over- shadows some of the supporting characters who deserve better, notably pregnant ex-junkie Cyclops (Harris - - last seen in The Faculty) and Gary's partner Benny (Bradford). Andie MacDowell, on the other hand, offers another wooden performance that begs the question: why do Hollywood casting directors force her upon audiences? Didn't they learn anything from Multiplicity?
What's most enjoyable about Just the Ticket is its colourful picture of the scalpers' world, a profession which bridges the divide between sharp salesmanship and street crime. There's nothing Gary and his cronies consider unmarketable, causing genuinely funny scenes when the merchandising opportunities presented by the Pope's visit are exploited to the full. Cherry-flavoured Popesicle anyone? Wenk's decision to shoot on location in Manhattan with hidden cameras and long lenses also pays off, letting us enjoy a ringside view of the touts' sharp practices and savvy street style.
If only the attention to the rest of the film was as detailed. Just The Ticket lacks one of two basic requirements for a romantic comedy - romance. With the chemistry between Garcia and MacDowell about as fiery as a damp Swan Vesta, it never really succeeds in making you care whether they get together or not.
Sharp shooting and a good supporting cast can't prevent Just The Ticket from failing the rom-com acid test. Even though his performance is passable, the only real romance on show in this vanity vehicle is Garcia's love affair with himself.