As in Mister Roberts, you have the man in the middle being squeezed to satisfy some foolish ambition. The added note is the peculiar edification of some young hooligan for the purpose, and the nicety of this is casting Freddie Prinze, Jr. for the role. He is mirrored by Timothy Hutton as a “player”.
The awful absurdity of this equation is what exposes the actual menace behind it (Peter Falk is the hapless bookie required to bleed his clients). The remedy is the last straw allowed to break the camel’s back, and as in Mister Roberts, it’s a Pyrrhic victory, in a way.
The specialty of this director appears to be successfully lighting dim interiors to convey their colors without loss of ambience, but he is also good in the nicely-lit suburban home.