Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is it just me, or does Al Pacino kind of suck?

That's more than a bit harsh about a man who obviously used to be a great actor, but I have to say that when I see his name on a movie nowadays it just makes me wince.

Now, luckily unlike Marshall Eriksen (more truly great stuff about "How I Met Your Mother coming at the end), I don't have a boss who yells at me on a regular basis. That doesn't mean, however, that I need to have this void filled by having Al Pacino yell at me at the movies. And that's all he seems to do.

Now, there have been recent exceptions, of course. He was great as Roy Cohn in "Angels in America," but you have to go all the back to 1999 to find a year in which he made two movies that I really enjoyed - "Any Given Sunday" and (much better) "The Insider."

And this week he's back with what looks like a truly tired stinker. Let me go ahead and get the joke out of the way first - "88 Minutes" is, apparently unfortunately, actually 108 minutes long.

In a strictly paint-by-numbers plotline, Pacino stars as a criminology professor who regularly lends his skills to the FBI. Now one particular case has come back to haunt him in the form of a mysterious voice on the other end of the telephone that casually informs him he's been marked for death. That does sound slightly more interesting than the calls I constantly get from people telling me the warranty on my 1998 Honda Civic is about to expire, but only slightly.

Oh well, I will still be going to the movies twice this weekend. Once, of course for Segel's "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," but also - even though the Hollywood Reporter says it's aimed squarely at 16-year-old males - "The Forbidden Kingdom." I simply don't care how juvenile it might be; if you put Jackie Chan and Jet Li together in a movie (as opposed to Chan and Chris Tucker, thankfully), I'll be there to see it.

As for Mr. Pacino, I don't know when if ever I'll be able to come home to him again. A look at his future projects reveals a team-up with Robert De Niro for "Righteous Kill" - can you imagine the amount of hot air on that set? - and then a remake of the French heist flick "Rififi." The original, by the way, which I just recently managed to see, is simply a superb little thriller directed by the more recently late Jules Dassin. Rent it immediately if you can.

The return of Robin Sparkles!

I've been trying to find out if "How I Met Your Mother" (who it certainly seems is the simply radiant Sarah Chalke) has been renewed for a fourth season yet or not. If anyone knows the answer to this, please do share.

In the meantime, after a very funny episode this week about Marshall's job woes, it appears the show is going back into high gimmick mode for the April 21 episode with the return of everyone's favorite teen pop star, Robin Sparkles.

For anyone who doesn't watch the show (and, if you don't, you certainly should), Robin Sparkles is the alter ego of TV anchorwoman Robin Scherbatsky, played by Cobie Smulders. She made her debut on the very funny "Slap Bet" episode in a music video for "Let's Go to the Mall" on season two, and now she's back next Monday as another video blast from the past surfaces, this time to be called "Sandcastle." The episode will also feature cameos from Alan Thicke (as a music producer) and Tiffany (yes, that Tiffany) and James Van der Beek in the video. Which brings me to my only concern ...

The show already has five very engaging stars who work better and better together all the time, so do we really need all these gimmicky guests? I know I don't, but if "Sandcastle" contains anything nearly as funny as the line "Gonna rock your body 'til Canada Day," I'll be satisfied. And heck, if the guest stars are what it takes to get my second-favorite network comedy (after only "The Office") renewed again, I think I can handle it.

So, in honor of both Robins, here is the much-viewed video for "Let's Go to the Mall" (more than 500,000 times at YouTube, apparently.) Even if you've never seen the show, I guarantee this will make even the most dreary Wednesday just a little brighter. Peace out.

25 comments:

Splotchy said...

My apologies for tooting my own horn, but I did a career retrospective on Mr. Pacino a while back.

Reel Fanatic said...

No need to apologize at all, splotchy ... Surely your look (which I'm gonna check out on my lunch break) is a lot more thorough than that admittedly pretty cheap shot I fired off this morning

Chalupa said...

I think Pacino has had some really amazing roles, but when it really comes down to it, I think I'm a bigger fan of De Niro. I just get tired of Pacino after a while - especially in some of his more recent films.

Vance said...

What? Are you knocking Al Pacino?

Oh thank goodness because I've been saying for way too long that his "acting" skills basically entail yelling at people and saying every line at the top of his voice.

AiA was good though which proves he CAN still act, he just hasn't in a very long time.

We are very proud of Robin Sparkles. Too bad they couldnt get Alanis Morrisette in, especailly as her former self "Alanis", when she was a pop star in Canada during her teen years!

Eric said...

Yay for Robin Sparkles. That was probaly the single funniest 30 minutes on TV last year. The whole buildup starting from Robin's aversion to going to Malls and Barny's dogged effort to root out the cause of her fear. Sure that it was Porn.
And then the total Payoff of the 80s video from the mid 90s.
"Everything in Canada is 10 years behind the US"

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm certainly with you there, Eric ... There might only be one episode of How I Met Your Mother I like one, and that's the one in season one where Lily and Marshall go to St. Cloud and everyone ends up celebrating Thanksgiving at the strip club .. just priceless

Mercurie said...

How I Met Your Mother has been renewed for a fourth season. I am glad of that, as it does mean more opportunity to watch la femme Sarah Chalke!

And I have to agree with you about Pacino. It does seem like all he does in every movie these days is yell.

Linda said...

Obviously, Pacino's work does not appeal to everyone. Personally, I love his approach to acting as an art. I admire his intensity and intricate performances. Chinese Coffee, Angels in America and Merchant of Venice are recent performances I enjoyed. An interesting artist whose work has always appealed to me. He is not always the critic's darling or box office draw, but I'll go see him any time ... and be glad for it!

Reel Fanatic said...

I'll give you "Merchant of Venice" for sure, Linda, but I just think that far too often in recent years - in my opinion - he just seems to be coasting

Bob said...

I've still never seen "How I Met Your Mother" but that video was brilliant! I think I need to check out the DVDs now.

Reel Fanatic said...

I give my guarantee that you will enjoy them if you start from the beginning of Season One, Bob

James said...

I liked Pacino in "Heat" but I agree with the commenter who said that they liked De Niro better. I also prefer Hoffman.

Have you watched that new T.V. series, "The Big Bang Theory?" It's really good. :)

Reel Fanatic said...

I do watch the "Big Bang Theory" sometimes, James ... It is indeed pretty funny, but not quite on the same level as "HIMYM"

Neel Mehta said...

Variety has a sneak preview of the new Robin Sparkles song, but it's only audio.

I've seen 88 Minutes and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Reviews here. Can't say that either is time well spent, but FSM has a bit of charm.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for the heads up on those two, Neel ... I'm sure I'll like FSM more than you simply because I'm too much of a sucker for that kind of mix of raunch and heart

Jonathan said...

You'll never get me to say Al Pacino sucks, and I think the idea of him just screaming all the time is getting as tired as just about anything I've read repeatedly written about an actor over the past few years. However, he, like many of his elder sibilings (Nicholson and DeNiro to name a couple) has not made the best decisions in the last few years when it comes to movie roles.

Granted, this is still a few years ago, but "Insomnia" is a cool, little thriller where Pacino gives a very subdued and I guess you could say, quiet performance. Robin Williams (Another guy who hasn't been setting the world on fire as of late) is also very creepy as the villain.

Neel Mehta said...

Robin Sparkles update! CBS has posted a bit of the new video here.

Reel Fanatic said...

I did kind of like "Insomnia," Jonathan, so you're certainly right to correct me there .. and thanks for the the update, Neel!

Nell Minow said...

I like Pacino (though not a fan of "Scent of a Woman"), but "88 Minutes" is a big honking failure in every possible respect, starting with howlers of illogic up through appalling mis-use of talent. Oh, and there's the fetishistic portrayal of torture and butchery. My favorite review said that Pacino's Don King-esque hairstyle in this film was an effort to make him appear taller next to his towering female co-stars. But no one can explain his atrocious line readings.

Reel Fanatic said...

Though I'd still someday like to be paid to review movies, Nell, it's ones like this that make me thankful that I have the job I do now instead! ... thanks for the warning

Jeremy said...

Sorry but I disagree, Pacino may not be the acting powerhouse that he was in his early years, but I always find he brings the most to his roles as he could. He has been typecast lately as some what of a yeller but I at least find those performances entertaining and prefer them over De Niro's latter day roles (Meet the Fockers anyone?) My favorite recent role from him has to be from "Insomnia"

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm a little surprised more people didn't disagree with me, Jeremy, and you never have to apologize for doing so

L. White said...

He did suck in Heat. As a matter of fact, he was so bad going "off-script" that hey had to re-edit some parts. One obvious ridiculous performance was with Hank Azaria going off something about a big ass and Azaria finally asked "What was that?" That little bit of the scene was in the original but it is now deleted on cable, etc. This happens when actors don't really study their characters and don't take the "performance" serious enough.
It's almnost painful to watch him now. He needs to stop that stupid tongue thing he does, stop screaming out of character, get off his high horse, and give one good performance. I really used to think that he was one of the greatest actors of our generation. Now I'm so embarrased for him that I can't even rent his latest movies.

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Anonymous said...

Pacino has been truly horrible in a number of films. He is frequently the king of overacting. He sucked in Scarface (I know sacrilege). He wreaked in Scent of a Woman. He stunk in Sea of Love. He sucked in 88 minutes. He was horrible in Frankie and Johnny. He was terrible in City Hall. There is one role where his over acting was warranted and then was when he played the devil in The Devil's Advocate. Of course the way Pacino played was to make a characterture out of the devil. I can remember movie's where I left and didn't say "Pacino totally sucked in that" but I can recall any movies where I left and thought "Pacino was great in that" even if the movie was great like Heat.