Michael Rock: I’m Sorry, But the Irishman Was Just OK
I have been waiting for Thanksgiving weekend since word first broke about this incredible new mafia movie The Irishman. Directed by the legendary Martin Scorcese, and starring the incomparable Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. When I heard about this movie, my only thought was how would there be enough screen to fit all of their star power?
After Thanksgiving was over, and the family had already argued about politics and the turkey and apple pie were tucked away in the fridge, I settled into my room with my remote control. I was ready to take a trip back in time, ready to see a movie that would yield quotable lines for decades to come, ready to witness something special. I had expected The Irishman to earn a place next to the Holy Trinity of mob movies: The Departed, Goodfellas, and The Godfather. Instead, I got a movie that wasn't terrible, but also wasn't that great.
The biggest problem with The Irishman is the ages of the actors. No matter how much makeup, hair dye, and de-aging effects you slop onto Robert DeNiro, the 76-year-old actor just isn't convincing as a 30-something-year-old working father. I'm sorry, he's just not. To me, DeNiro's age was distracting at times.
The acting wasn't all bad, though. Joe Pesci's soft-spoken mob boss character was interesting and played well, and Pacino had some memorable Pacino moments as Jimmy Hoffa. The office scene where he's dressing down his union presidents comes to mind.
The other issue I had with The Irishman was that what was once Scorsese's brilliant portrayal of mob life in Goodfellas seemed to be rehashed material in the current movie. Even worse, the rehashed material was done 100 times better the first time. This time it seemed forced.
Often over the course of the three-and-a-half-hour marathon film, I felt like I had already seen a similar sequence in Goodfellas. It was like an aging rock star trying to come back to write one more No. 1 hit, but trying to do it using a formula that worked 30 years ago. That never works, and it didn't work in The Irishman.
One of the best summations I saw of The Irishman came from one of my Facebook friends, Tom Stewart, who left this comment on my Irishman post: "(The Irishman is like) an old-timers baseball game. It was fun seeing them in uniform again, but they're not in their prime anymore."
I wanted to love The Irishman, I really did. But it was just OK.