Two Godfathers in Righteous Kill

DATELINE:  Pacino & De Niro as Cop Team

two godfathers

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro have made several movies together. We were surprised by the 2008 entry called Righteous Kill from 2008. When this is all we will ever receive from the two legends in tandem, we take it gladly ten years later.

You have a special treat with this movie. The two legendary actors play New York detective partners. They must’ve flipped a coin to see who got which role. We suspect they have equal numbers of scenes, but play off each other quite well. Nothing less could be expected.

Their Lieutenant played by Brian Dennehy, notes that they must have about 120 years experience between them. Yes, they seem a little long in the tooth and beyond retirement age. This is especially noticeable in De Niro’s love scenes to a girl more than half his age.

Their foil cop detectives are played by John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg, more age-appropriate detectives. They play mincemeat for laughs to the stars. Pacino calls them gay Starsky and Hutch.

There are many 60s and 70s references in this movie, like it should’ve been made 25 years earlier.

However, the stars will not disappoint their fans. Short of them playing mobsters, these roles are the best they probably could find in a script together.

The mystery about the serial killer may easily be figured out,  But the fun is watching Pacino and De Niro act up a storm.

Righteous kill pushes all the right buttons. It is formulaic, yes, but De Niro and Pacino transcend.

To prove we watched every minute including the credits, we can tell you that Pacino and De Niro each has a hairdresser; each has his own make up artist; each needs a personal Stand-in, and each has a personal driver, But Pacino has two personal assistants to De Niro’s one.

The movie is a game of one upsmanship.






Grudge Match Leaves Grinches and Grumps Unhappy



Grumpy Old Boxers: Rocky Takes On Raging Bull

When someone in movie marketing decides to pair up two iconic boxing movie stars, you have boxing office gold. You may also have a legendary teaming, but mostly you have the ultimate in stripped-down dignity.

Robert DeNiro of Raging Bull (Best Oscar Picture 1980) and Sylvester Stallone of Rocky (Best Oscar Picture 1977) have aged with a kind of grace. They are still forceful figures and important film stars.

Their days of heavy drama and important movies may have gone the way of Marlon Brando spoofing his own Godfather movie in later years or of Jack Nicholson spoofing everything he used to do nowadays.

Bette Davis knew it best. If people want a parody, then she decided to play Bette Davis as only Bette could. It meant bumpy rides and axe-wielding killers had to step aside for the grandest dame.

DeNiro and Stallone have considerable guts to spoof their own most serious and most respected work. No one else can do it quite as well with a tongue-in-cheek.

In Grudge Match they play aging second-rate boxers who are teamed up for a fake digital rematch. Their animosity makes them a laughing stock: but the smell of money sends them back to the boxing ring in their senior moment.

So, it is with this movie. Stripped down to boxing trunks, Sylvester looks impressive for an old man, and DeNiro looks like an old man.

They are brave to spoof themselves and poke fun at their own careers. Yet, there is something disquieting and undignified in how the public wants their men in old age to become doddering fools.

We may well laugh along with the two stars, knowing their original performances cannot be tainted, but we are left with a slightly sickening guilt that our chuckles are not coming from the best of intentions.

Of course, some actors (like benighted Paul Walker, dead in a horrible car accident this week) will never have the opportunity to reprise their youthful success.

To survive into golden age gives old stars like Stallone and DeNiro the right to make an easy living and enjoy making movies when they are well past it.

It may be a sign too that there are few, if any, real movies for older actors outside of playing the buffoon.

Grudge Match may give us a TKO for dignity in the ultimate fighters’ film world.

For the most interesting insights into movies, old and new, you should read MOVIES TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE and MOVIE MASHUP.  Both books are available on in softcover or e-book.