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My review of "The Godfather"

Why I love Twitter, Reason 2,926:

It was sometime last baseball season when Bob Klapisch, a friend, mentor and press box neighbor, turned to me during a game and made a reference to "The Godfather." With the proper mix of shame and honesty, I admitted, "I haven't seen it."

Klap responded with the proper mix of surprise and disgust, and he then did what any self-respecting media member would do: He tweeted it.

Before I knew it, the Twitterverse - at least, the portion of the Twitterverse that follows New York baseball - expressed its disappointment in this gaping hole in my movie-seeking resume. After all, I love films. The way my brain works, I often see real-world events and then immediately conjure comparable scenes from movies and TV.

And yet...I had seen the first four "Police Academy" movies, the first two installments of "Look Who's Talking" and three "Howlings." No Godfather or "Godfather: Part II," however.

(I did see "The Godfather: Part III," at a Lake Worth, Fla. cinema in December of 1990. My Grandma Ruth, may she rest in peace, insisted upon taking me. But I've been instructed by many to act as though that film never happened.)

Anywho, in the wake of Klap's initial disclosure, it was @SheriPizza who suggested that Klap get me a copy of "The Godfather" as a holiday gift. Klap came through with that. And then Marcia Herold declared that I had to watch the movie by Opening Day.

Under the gun, I watched the movie over the last two nights, finishing just in time. My verdict?

I really enjoyed it. Great acting, great music, great film-making. But it was a weird movie-watching experience. 

Rather than simply take in the film, I found myself checking off its components, since - because of my vast pop-culture exposure - I was familiar with many of the lines and motifs.

--The horse's head? Check.

--"Leave the gun, take the cannoli"? Check.

--"Go to the mattresses"? Check.

--"Make him an offer he can't refuse"? Check.

Similarly, I found myself comparing the film to my expectations of it, rather than simply evaluating it on its own merits. While I appreciated Marlon Brando's performance, I was frustarted by the way Vito Corleone whispered, since I kept having to raise the volume whenever he spoke (and then had to lower it when the operatic music returned, blasting me into the next room of my apartment).

I struggled to keep up with the peripheral characters- who was who, who was doing what. 

But Al Pacino was great, as was Diane Keaton, and my goodness, I didn't realize James ("Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs") Caan was Sonny until I read it online. He was awesome, too, and loved the brief but memorable appearance by Alex ("The Facts of Life") Rocco as Moe Greene.

I loved Francis Coppola's direction (except for Brando's volume) and how he conveyed the closeness of the Corleone family.

Most of all, I loved watching the transformation of Pacino's Michael Corleone from the family outsider, of sorts, to his father's successor. I found the evolution wholly believable.

It isn't a Top 10 movie for me, not after one viewing. But I'm certainly richer, culturally, for having finally seen it, and I look forward to a second look. Thanks to the Twitterverse for pushing me.

What do you think? Give me until next year's Opening Day to see Part II?

Tags: Al Pacino , Diane Keaton , Francis Coppola , James Caan , Alex Rocco , Bob Klapisch

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