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A self-indulgent chronicle of the making of ‘The Godfather’ : NPR


Miles Teller as Al Ruddy.

Nicole Wilder/Paramount+


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Nicole Wilder/Paramount+

A self-indulgent chronicle of the making of ‘The Godfather’ : NPR

Miles Teller as Al Ruddy.

Nicole Wilder/Paramount+

Michael Tolkin, who wrote the Hollywood satire The player a few years ago also wrote the new ten-hour Paramount Plus series The offeron the manufacture of The Godfather. He explained the creation process this way: “The only story I know about the creation The Godfather was that Mario Puzo had a fight with Frank Sinatra at Chasen. So I had five minutes written into the show, and I just needed nine hours and 55 minutes more to fill it.”

Between the battles over choosing Francis Ford Coppola to direct and Al Pacino to star, as well as the production’s now-familiar entanglements with real organized crime figures, with a bit of a furious Frank Sinatra (who had gotten a little too seen in the book’s disreputable crooner) thrown away, Tolkin could have taken those five minutes and stretched them to two hours. Or even at four o’clock, or six. But at 10 o’clock, the material is absurdly stretched, and it shows all the flaws.

The hero of the series is Al Ruddy (Miles Teller), who was the producer of The Godfather. Not at all by chance, Ruddy is also one of the executive producers of The offerwho states at the outset that it is based on his experiences. In other words, Ruddy helped make this ten-hour hagiography where he’s played by a movie star, and it ends up being kind of like being at the world’s longest dinner sitting next to a guy who doesn’t. keep talking to you all the time he was awesome. Even if he been awesome, his company will wear thin.

But Ruddy isn’t alone in doubling down when it comes to both making the show and being celebrated by it. The supporting hero of The offer is none other than Paramount Pictures. You might remember hearing the word “Paramount” a few paragraphs ago in the name of the streaming service, “Paramount Plus.” Thus, the main individual subject and the main subject of the company document their courageous shepherd of a film that has already been celebrated time and time again, which has been honored about as much as any film can be honored.

A self-indulgent chronicle of the making of ‘The Godfather’ : NPR

Giovanni Ribisi as Joe Colombo.

Nicole Wilder/Paramount+


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Nicole Wilder/Paramount+

A self-indulgent chronicle of the making of ‘The Godfather’ : NPR

Giovanni Ribisi as Joe Colombo.

Nicole Wilder/Paramount+

Seemingly unhappy with the film’s extraordinary reputation, the series also feels compelled to spruce it up, including in an ending card that reads, “It’s widely regarded as the greatest film of all time.” It is simply not true. And the need to stretch is a shame, because it’s completely fair to say that it’s widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time! That should be enough! But not only is The Godfather not “widely considered” the greatest movie of all time, it’s not even “widely considered” the best Godfather film! (Ruddy, however, did not work on The Godfather: Part II.)

Behind the scenes of The Godfather has been extensively documented in books, including this one last fall Leave the gun, take the cannoli by Marc Seal. Yes, the movie turns 50 this year, but that means it’s already turned 20, and 25, and 40, and so on. There have been so many occasions to talk about The Godfather, and it’s not something that was lost for decades or underestimated in its day. It was very appreciated in its time, and every moment since. It’s hard not to conclude that we’re not here to learn more about The Godfatherwe’re here specifically to watch a version of Ruddy who solves all the problems, rarely gets things wrong, handles everything with aplomb, is loved by everyone (including the crowd) and ends up picking up an Oscar while bathed in a ray of blinding light that looks like it’s directly under a spaceship about to land.

We first meet Ruddy when he works for the Rand Corporation, and we follow him to his big break as one of the creators of Hogan’s heroes. He then went to work for Paramount, where the legendary producer Robert Evans (Matthew Goode) entrusted him with the task of producing The Godfather. A rote Hollywood story of reunions, doubts overcome, scripts completed, genius unveiled and so on. Goode spent a lot of time playing Evans as 70s Hollywood fleshed out, a walking, talking manifestation of excess and Southern California. But eventually, Evans takes over Ruddy, who is, at every turn, the hero.

Goode aside, though, it’s a show that doesn’t serve its cast well. Juno Temple is so good on Ted Lasso and been so good at other things, and here she is in an underwritten role as Ruddy’s assistant, Bettye McCartt, who in real life eventually became a successful agent in her own right, but who doesn’t Not much to do here except break the wall of dudes who otherwise make up the heart of this cast. Ultimately, Ruddy is also credited with driving her subsequent success, meaning she becomes less of a character than another story of her greatness, generosity, and accomplishments.

Another problem with casting is that because The offer chose to cast people to play actors in The Godfatherit can’t actually show you any of the The Godfather, which you might expect Paramount Plus to do a series on a Paramount film. And unfortunately, recreations of famous performances don’t hold up well at all.

Nothing is perhaps more ungrateful in these ten hours… nothing, not even the most silly caricatures of the Mafia — only the role of Marlon Brando. Justin Chambers is a solid ensemble actor, but asking him to play Marlon Brando – not to mention Marlon Brando playing Don Vito Corleone – it’s like telling someone to ride a pogo on a frozen lake when you can already hear the ice cracking. It looks ridiculous, but it’s hard to imagine anyone would. do not looked ridiculous. There are things you shouldn’t try.

Likewise, the show’s reflection on Al Pacino is that he is (1) skittish and (2) short. Fifty years later, if your thesis on Pacino is “he excelled despite his size”, maybe you don’t have ten episodes of ideas, or maybe Pacino doesn’t need to be a character. important in the story -scenes you are telling.

Alongside the Hollywood story, we see a cartoonish presentation of Joe Colombo (Giovanni Ribisi), the notorious crime boss who begins as an antagonist of The Godfather then becomes a collaborator. The Colombo sections have all the subtlety of a saturday night live sketches, providing only caricatures of the man and the people around him. (A line like “She’s something else, that wide, isn’t she?” will always play as a first draft of something more specific.) If The Godfather was famous for countering existing flat depictions of Mafia characters, The offer is a return to them. Ruddy, of course, befriends Colombo and is tasked with deftly navigating the complications of organized crime’s relationship with Paramount, just as he deftly navigates everything else. In this story, he can solve any problem except perhaps bad weather.

The offer is an unfortunate example of some of the most pervasive issues plaguing the burgeoning limited series streaming business right now, both because it’s far too long and because it’s based on another bet on appeal. already familiar. People might not be inclined to lump this in with another expansion of existing IP – a comic book, a superhero, a board game – but it’s the same idea. Many people are pre-invested in The Godfather; which acts as a hedge against a lack of interest. But it’s not enough.

Yes, I’m going to say it, I have to, I can’t help it, they led me here: it’s a Offer you should, in fact, refuse.


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