The Godfather (R) - 1972 - Runtime: 175 minutes
Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Ohmygod! I haven't seen The Godfather yet! Well, all you haters can calm down now. I've seen what some consider "the greatest of all the movies of all times, dude!" And to them I say, really? Okay, I may be a little biased going into this thing - mafia and gangster movies are not my cup of tea. I just find the subject matter to be a tad dull. And I've been hearing for almost all my movie-going life that The Godfather is the be-all, end-all of movies. No arguing. Period. But I think this movie has some minor, if not serious, flaws.
I'm assuming that most of you know the plot already - if you don't, it's pretty straightforward. It's about the Corleone family's fall and subsequent rise to power following Michael Corleone's (Al Pacino) reluctant takeover of the family business. So lets get down to the nitty and gritty: what I didn't like about the movie. First of all, it is long. And not in a good way. I'm a big fan of short movies - I just feel if it's over two hours and fifteen minutes, there better be a damn good reason why the director needed those extra scenes to fill in the story. And you know what? The Godfather could have used some choppin'. The wedding scene in the beginning is way too long. I know the movie is setting up the major players - but it didn't have to take so long or be so dull. And on that point - there are so many characters in this movie. It has an epic scope, so of course it has to have an epic cast, but I found myself too often getting confused as to what is happening and trying to follow who is who. The movie itself could have been trimmed down at least a half an hour - the pacing is not perfect. In fact, the whole Sicily side-plot was, in my opinion, not critical to the movie. Because it doesn't enhance any aspect of Michael's character - it's not like we see him later in the movie traumatized by his first wife's death - in fact, it seemed like he just took it as a fact of life. Which at that point in his life he was not used to dealing with death around every corner, so it seemed odd and out of character. There are some other flaws, like Sonny's fight scene with his brother-in-law was exceptionally laughable. It was so fake - at one point James Caan's fist goes to punch the guy in the face and completely misses him, but there's that stock punch noise on queue! You would think Coppola would have taken a look at that and decided to do another take, but no. That may seem like nitpicking, but if it's considered a perfect film, well, it ain't by my standards.
I don't want anyone to think I didn't enjoy this movie. I did, I just guess all my negativity is magnified because some of the people who love this movie are way too vocal about it. It was hard finding a fairly unbiased review on imdb.com out of almost fifteen hundred reviews. A lot of what I've heard is that it takes a second viewing to really enjoy the movie - and I may do that eventually - but if the movie didn't win me over the first time wholeheartedly, why bother with another three hours of my life?
As for the really good parts of the movie, the acting is phenomenal. It really does deserve all that acclaim. There's so many wonderful performances by everyone involved, it really is amazing how much talent is on screen. And despite the epic scope of the film, it still manages to be a very intimate portrait of a flawed and somewhat dysfunctional family.
Despite my intense negativity toward certain aspects of this movie - I do believe it's an important and great film. Maybe not of all time, but certainly it has impacted not only a lot of movies and filmmakers, but our culture as well. And for that alone, it's worth a viewing, if not two (which I will someday!).
Rating: Rent It!