Pacino is back this week, at least for 88 Minutes, but I must say ... the bad vibe surrounding this movie is pretty discouraging. I had a chance to buy a bootleg of this finished movie almost a year ago but declined. It felt like a bad omen, a sign of things to come, and despite those snazzy TV ads, I'm not biting now. I may catch this one on DVD where I'll feel less ripped.
This is taking nothing away from my boy Al, though. The guy is my favorite actor in the world, and here are five reasons why:
1. He takes risks
Pacino gets accused of clowning it up sometimes and I think that's fair, but it's also partly why I love him. He knows how to ham it up to the point that it's an art form. When I first saw Heat, I was disappointed in my favorite actor, because he just seemed too over-the-top. However, after (many) repeated viewings, it's Pacino who is the most intriguing. He's playing a very disturbed fellow in that one.
Of course, Pacino never hammed it up more gloriously than in Dick Tracy as villain Big Boy Caprice. His abrasive take on Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman could have been unlikable or even annoying, but he managed to make it endearing. But hamming it up isn't the only risk Pacino's taken. He's also left the big screen for Broadway many times. He's had colossal failures like the (then very) risky William Friedkin film, Cruising. I like a guy who takes chances, and his failures prove that despite his sometimes thunderous presence, the guy's only human.
Yet his biggest gambles were on his most infamous roles: Tony Montana and Michael Corleone. In one he hilariously overplayed it, and in the other he angered the studio by underplaying the juiciest role. In the end, time proved the actor victorious as he gave birth to two of cinema's greatest icons.
2. He knows how to deliver a speech
There ain't nobody in the business who can belt out a speech better than our friend Al. Any Given Sunday is a terrible movie that -- as a Pacino fan, an Oliver Stone fan and a football fan -- I can't stand. Give me Scott Bakula and Sinbad (shudder) playing college football before sitting through that thing again. Still, ya give credit where credit is due, and the bottom line is his "inches" speech is one of the greatest locker-room speeches of all time. It kicks the Gipper's ass.
3. He knows how to shout
There was a time when George C. Scott owned the title belt but that was eons ago, and last I checked Pacino's holding this one high above his head. Scent of a Woman, the end of And Justice For All, the church scene in City Hall and, lest we forget, the final act of The Devil's Advocate ... it's amazing the man hasn't torn something in his throat. Even if he isn't giving one of his famous speeches the guy rattles you. In my HOME! IN MY BEDROOM WHERE MY WIFE SLEEPS!
4. The man loves his Shakespeare
People befuddled by Pacino's choice to go "big" in a lot of his roles need only look to the man's evident love of Shakespeare. (The bard was such a show-off!) Watch Pacino proclaim him in Frankie and Johnny as the greatest poet who ever lived. Watch him sink his teeth into the role of the Shylock in Merchant of Venice. And if you haven't caught Pacino's ode to Shakes, Looking for Richard, you're missing out on an entertaining portrait of a man's obsession with the work of his favorite artist.
5. This guy is funny!
I don't believe his humor is restricted to his roles; it's in his life and it's something he brings to his acting. You just don't deliver this to Hank Azaria without having a significant silly bone in your body. When the Jimmy Kimmel show sent Guillermo to the Ocean's 13 premiere to stir up some trouble, Pacino was ready. Guillermo snags Al for a quick 5 second interview, asking him -- in a way only Guillermo could -- "What ocean are you?" Pacino answers the insanity with a dose of his own. And something tells me Al would get a kick out of an impression as good as this guy's.
So yeah, I'm a big Pacino fan. But I still won't go see 88 Minutes. I want to remember the good times.
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Dre writes three times a week for Film.com. Email him!