Sunday, March 8, 2009

Things That Are Overrated: Scarface

First of all, when I watch Scarface, what I find myself thinking is, "What freaking coke-head wrote this movie?" The answer, of course, is Oliver Stone, who was, in fact, a coke-head when he was writing this movie. The respective notions that this movie is a classic, is groundbreaking, is timeless, or is even inherently watchable are all ludicrous. Scarface does transpire in a frenetic, cokeheaded sort of way, but under the surface the movie is really formulaic, doesn't particularly explore any of its themes, and doesn't really resolve anything in a way that makes any sense at all. To say that this movie is a tragedy is an understatement, but just because everyone dies in the end doesn't mean you made some sort of grand statement about life.

I think the reason this movie is still even talked about today is because it seems to have a place in the hip-hop community as the movie that represents a particular kind of lifestyle that, as best I can tell, some people aspire to. I think the ruthless way in which Tony Montana handles things must have struck a chord with some people. And then a lot like the Yankees or slap bracelets, other people become fans without really knowing why, and without really understanding what they claim to enjoy.

I mean, there are other, much better, gangster movies. Goodfellas is a far superior movie in every respect, even down to quotability. Hell, even My Blue Heaven is a better gangster movie than this one. There are other, better, Al Pacino movies that don't get remembered with as much fondness. Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico come to mind. Donnie Brasco is better than this. The Godfather movies are clearly better than this one. And those are gangster movies with Al Pacino. Why choose hamburger over steak? Why this one movie stands out for some people over those others is really beyond me.

Also a lot of the movie is pretty silly. I mean, the scene with Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino dancing in the night club is just ridiculous. Michelle Pfeiffer is waving her arms all over the place like a wounded chicken. Al Pacino can't dance to save his life. I mean, he's supposed to be Cuban. And Michelle Pfeiffer does not play a very convincing cokehead. Just because you thumb your nose at the beginning of a scene doesn't mean you're a fiend.

And who in the world thought that this hairstyle for Gina was right for anyone, let alone a girl who's supposed to be beautiful? Gina Montana, your brother is a drug kingpin and you own a beauty salon. Can you get a haircut that doesn't look so silly, please? It's distracting.

And what was the whole deal with the subplot about Tony's unnatural incestuous fascination with his sister? If you're gonna put that in the movie, then at least explain it. All they did here was that every time Tony's sister was on the screen they would show a close up of his eyes and play some high pitched synthesizer music. And from that we are supposed to infer every aspect of their relationship past and present. And the same is true for most of the themes in this movie. No words, no exposition, no flashbacks, just synthesizer music.

And let's be honest, there is just far too much synthesizer music in the movie for me to take it seriously. This is the most '80s movie this side of Manhunter, the 1980s version of Red Dragon with Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecter. Side Note: get a hold of both Manhunter and Red Dragon and watch them both consecutively. It's astounding. But Scarface is a very dated movie. For me, it has too much synthesizer, crazy neon colored sets, like Frank's office, which we are to believe has 3 black walls, a black ceiling, and one wall with a huge mural of palm trees near the beach at sunset.

And an I really supposed to believe that Al Pacino, Robert Loggia, and F. Murray Abraham are three Cuban criminals? Michael Corleone, Feech La Manna, and Antonio Salieri? Was Joe Mantegna unavailable?

In summary, this movie is overrated. It is hyper violent, hyper '80s, untertold, and over dramatized. The best part of the movie, however, is when he's in the tub and he goes, "Look at them pelicans fly. Come on pelicans!"


Open Bar said...

Well done, Chuck. Couldn't agree more.

Although that part where he chops the guy up with the chainsaw in the beginning is pretty badass.

Also not overrated: Michelle Pfeiffer (looks-wise). Holy fucking Christ's balls is she hot in this.

Anonymous said...

+ 900 blogger points for "slap bracelet" reference.

ChuckJerry said...

I was waiting for those bonus points.