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Just The Ticket Is Just Right

By Jav Rivera

I remember back in mid-90’s, I hated Andy Garcia.  Not because I was judging his performances in anything – I’m not sure I had even seen him in anything at that point.  I was just jealous because every girl I met was in love with him.  This jealously is much like the one I had with Brad Pitt until I finally watched his incredible performance in 12 Monkeys.  Garcia was one of those “gorgeous” men with matching talent.  Something I was completely unaware until I watched Just The Ticket, that is, and then all prior judgments went out the window.

Just The Ticket (directed by Richard Wenk) came out in 1999 without much notice or publicity.  I was working at a department store at that time and noticed the DVD on the shelf.  Bored as any department store employee would be during an 8-hour shift, I decided to pick the DVD up and read the back.  I’m not a romantic-comedy fan so I was immediately turned off – not to mention it starred Andy “Gorgeous” Garcia.  But I was bored so I read on.  Turns out the premise seemed clever – a ticket scalper named Gary Starke (Andy Garcia), a man with no identity and no responsibilities, is trying to make up with his ex, Linda Palinski (played by the lovely Andie MacDowell) by proving that he can be a legitimately honest man.

I was intrigued so I declared the DVD the property of the electronic department and opened it to watch on one of the thousand monitors at work.  Now that I think about it, it seems like something Gary would have done.  (Don’t worry – I ended up buying it).  Anyone who knows this film understands why I was hooked the second it starts. Over the United Artists/MGM logo at the beginning of the film we hear a deep breath followed by a couple of knocks.  A moment of silence and then another knock but this time it’s the famous “Shave and a haircut – Two bits” knock.  A confessional booth window slides open and we see our hero waiting for the priest.   Gary is a man with a million scams but is at a loss when it comes to winning back the heart of Linda.  This is apparently his last resort.

Andy Garcia is guaranteed to charm the pants off of you but a lot of credit also belongs to MacDowell’s brilliant performance as a gifted chef with a tough-love mentality.  Credit also goes to the superb supporting cast – much of whom have worked with Garcia in the past and chipped in favors to the production.  The script had been around the block more than a few times before Garcia finally decided to “just make it” with little-to-no budget. 

The DVD includes an audio commentary where it’s explained that many of the ticket scalping scenes took place on real streets with real customers.  Several of the other scenes were improvised as well, including a hilarious moment when Garcia fakes a pain in his side fooling even MacDowell.  Garcia is no doubt at the top of his game – something we don’t see again until City Island (2009), which has much of the same charm and strength of Just The Ticket.

Find it at your local rental shop or just buy the DVD – it’s well worth it.  Spread the word!  For more information on Just The Ticket, visit the IMDb page here: www.imdb.com/title/tt0134948.

TRIVIA: Andie MacDowell improvises a jingle to mock Gary about his idea for a drive-thru dental service called Gary's Plaque-O-Rama.  A full big band version of that jingle is later used for the ending credits.