(director: Hal Ashby; screenwriters: Al Schwartz/Jon Voight; cinematographer: Haskell Wexler; editor: Robert C. Jones; music: Johnny Mandel; cast: Jon Voight (Alex Kovac), Ann-Margret (Patti Warner), Burt Young (Jerry Feldman), Bert Remsen (Smitty), Jude Farese (Harry), Allen Keller (Joey), Richard Bradford (Bernie Gold), Stacey Pickren (Rusty), Samantha Harper (Lillian), Fox Harris (Harvey); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Robert Schaffel; Warner Home Video; 1982)

Moronic comedy that’s pleasant enough until it runs out of steam in the third act.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Moronic comedy that’s pleasant enough until it runs out of steam in the third act and tries to get by with a poorly scripted ending. Hal Ashby (“The Landlord”/”Harold and Maude”/”Coming Home“) directs, but complains Paramount butchered his film on the cutting board. It’s based on a flabby script co-written byAl Schwartz and the star/producer Jon Voight.

Fast-talker charmer Alex Kovac (Jon Voight)andthe dimwitted Jerry Feldman (Burt Young) are obnoxious loser roommates residing in NYC. Alex in order to avoid paying off his $10,000 gambling debt over a backroom poker game to mobster Harry (Jude Farese), flees with loyal bud Jerry to Las Vegas. There Harry’s enforcer oafish goon Joey (Allen Keller) catch up with Alex after he cons his way into getting the ultra-luxury Dr. Zhivago suite for free and is staked to $10,000 in chips by falsely claiming Jerry is a good friend of the MGM Grand Hotel owner Bernie Gold (Richard Bradford).

Alex meets his girlfriend hooker, with a heart of gold, from five years ago, Patti Warner (Ann-Margret), who is the hotel owner’s kept woman. Out of old loyalties, Patti tries to make things safe for her loser ex-boyfriend with her current kind-hearted boyfriend boss. Later we learn Alex is the father of her five year old daughter, and understand why she still has feelings for such a jerk.

The cartoonish NYC thugs threaten body harm to Alex unless he pays them. Instead the boys hook-up as partners with once card-shark but now because of bad luck a hotel waiter, Smitty (Bert Remsen), who has a mathematical scheme to beat the casino at blackjack and uses the boys’ markers to beat the House.

The crude comedy doesn’t quite know how to play out its hand, and ends in a sluggish fashion with an unbelievable casino slugfest and a laughable but unbelievable twist ending.Though an ill-conceived venture, it still has enough laughs not to be the total bomb some made it out to be.