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Blu-ray Review: Let It Ride (1989)

April 25, 2022

By John Corrado

On April 5th, Paramount released a new Blu-ray edition of the surprisingly entertaining 1989 comedy Let It Ride, a film that has flown somewhat under the radar but deserves to be viewed with a fresh pair of eyes.

Richard Dreyfuss stars as Jay Trotter, a cab driver and recovering gambling addict who vows to his wife Pam (Teri Garr) that he will stop blowing money at the race track. But he’s pulled back in when his cabbie buddy Looney (David Johansen), who has a penchant for secretly recording his passengers, overhears two guys talking about a horse who is a sure thing.

Trotter takes advantage of the insider knowledge to place a bet on the horse. The bet pays off, but in true addict fashion, he is unable to stop and decides to keep reinvesting his winnings. The film mainly unfolds over one day at the race track, as Trotter goes on a compulsive streak of making increasingly high risk bets that could either change his life or sink him even deeper into the hole, with a growing list of spectators watching him and getting roped in.

The feature directorial debut of Joe Pytka, who more famously went on to direct the original Space Jam, Let It Ride was largely dismissed by critics upon it’s initial release in the summer of 1989. But time has actually been quite kind to it, and I would go so far as to say that this is a very underrated comedy from its era. For starters, the screenplay by Nancy Dowd (credited under the pseudonym “Earnest Morton”) is witty and fast-paced, with the opening marital argument that devolves into a fiery debate about fortune cookies serving as just one example of the film’s sparkling exchanges.

There is a cynicism running through Let It Ride that makes it work as a farce, but it’s also a strangely endearing film about an ordinary guy who keeps falling upwards. It’s a comedy that finds a sweet spot between being a bit crude but also weirdly wholesome, building to a genuinely rousing finale. Dreyfuss carries the whole thing with a very good comic performance as a man possessed by the extinction bursts of winning, growing increasingly manic as the film goes on. A young Jennifer Tilly also eats up the screen in a memorable supporting role.

The film is topped off by a solid Giorgio Moroder score, and the memorable use of “Fugue for Tinhorns” from Guys and Dolls as a cheery theme song. I had admittedly never seen Let It Ride before this release, but I’m glad Paramount has given Pytka’s film its due on Blu-ray, even if this is a decidedly bare bones edition.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

This Blu-ray includes a single archival featurette. The film also received a special edition Blu-ray release last year from Australian distributor Via Vision, which included an exclusive interview with Pytka and deleted scenes, but those extras are unfortunately not ported over here. There is no digital copy included in the package.

Behind-the-Scenes Featurette (3 minutes, 48 seconds)

Let It Ride is a Paramount Home Entertainment release. It’s 90 minutes and rated G.

Street Date: April 5th, 2022

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