What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
This movie is not on my list of essential films.
NOTE: This installment of Movies Everybody Loves That I Hate is being done as part of something called The Siskel and Ebert at the Blog-A-Thon, which is all about discussions of Siskel and Ebert themselves, movies that Siskel and/or Ebert have reviewed, or their show itself. this event is being hosted by by 18 Cinema Lane.
Now that you know the opinions of the honorees of this blog-a-thon, let me share with you why I would rather have a root canal with no anesthetic than sit through this movie again.
1) David Spade got it right
The greatest joke in the history of Spade’s “Hollywood Minute” bit on Saturday Night Live was two words.
He was dead on about that. “Casino” was the third Scorsese movie starring Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci, and it employs many things we’ve already seen from at least one of the other two (Raging Bull and GoodFellas)
2) So did Gene Siskel
You’ve already seen why Siskel didn’t like this movie. He didn’t pull any punches in the print version either.
A sometime-dazzling, often-disappointing film from the great Martin Scorsese, who too often seems like he’s replaying his greatest hits with this picture, and not to the best effect. While “Casino” definitely works as a documentary of Las Vegas’ casino operation and its scamming, the human stories are pretty much empty. Based on reporting by Nicholas Pileggi, “Casino” tells of the mob’s last hurrah in running Vegas. Robert DeNiro plays a gambling wizard who runs a major palace on the strip and is undone by a world-class hooker (Sharon Stone) and a mob enforcer (Joe Pesci) who is a childhood pal. DeNiro’s relationship with Cathy Moriarty in “Raging Bull” was better and the flash-temper role by Pesci is a carbon copy of his work in “Goodfellas.” “Casino” is hardly a bad film, but it breaks no new ground for Scorsese.
What Siskel is saying in his politest newspaper-speak is this movie is like Martin Scorsese’s “Greatest Hits” album. You’ve heard all the songs before, you know them by heart, and no matter how many “remaster/director’s cuts” they give us…they are still the same goddamn songs. The only difference is “Casino” is like when you hear one of your favorite songs being absolutely destroyed by a drunk receptionist at “karaoke night.”
3) How stupid was Robert Deniro?
All the trouble they had with the local and state government in Nevada started because Deniro’s “Ace Rothstein” was too fucking stupid to give Don Ward (played by John “Joe Bob Briggs” Bloom) a job somewhere when he found out he was a county commissioner’s brother-in-law.
You would think that a guy surrounded by mafioso would understand the ramifications of refusing a favor. But he doesn’t, and in turn it’s county commissioner Pat Webb (played by L.Q. Jones) that feeds Deniro through the gears of the government machine.
Another place where he could have avoided a lot of trouble is his handling of the problem with Lester Diamond (played by James Woods). Most guys who were screwing around with a gangster’s wife would have ended up simply dropped into one of those holes in the desert always being referenced in this movie. Instead, “Ace” has to go all “show of force” by making sure his wife Ginger (played by Sharon Stone) gets a front-row seat for the scrambling of Diamond’s face like it was so many truck-stop diner eggs. That sends Ginger twirling off into the addiction which eventually kills her and “Ace” has to deal with, and leaving Lester alive allows him to him rip-off “Ace” one last time.
And don’t even get me started on the brilliance of stashing millions of dollars in cash in a safety-deposit box and giving the only key to a coke-snorting demi-hooker. What could possibly go wrong there?
Finally, there’s the whole matter of that marriage. Sure, “Ace” may love Ginger, but all the bullshit he had to go through just to get her to say “yes” should have been a monstrous “red flag” she was going to be nothing but trouble. But no….”Ace” not only makes a deal with the devil to get her to marry him, he puts up with so much crap that by the time she’s clearly drinking herself to death, you really have no sympathy for her, because…
4) Sharon Stone defines “hate-able bitch”
How do I hate the “Ginger McKenna” character…let me count the ways. For starters, she’s a selfish bitch who has no problem exposing her own child to all sorts of danger. She snorts coke in front of her. Later, she ties up her own child so she can go hang out in a bar. Not to mention, she lets Lester Diamond use her to try to extort her own husband. If that weren’t enough, she fucks everybody except her husband, and her “go-to” move whenever she doesn’t get her way is threatening to rat out all the mob guys. What’s even more unforgivable is she knew exactly what she was getting into by marrying “Ace.”
5) The mixing of messages about Joe Pesci
This movie can’t decide how it want to treat his “Nicky Santoro” character. One one hand, this movie makes several attempts to humanize him by showing what a great father he is. We get to see “Nicky” as the “Little League dad” and we get to see him as the devoted breakfast-making father, but he’s also the guy who gets blow-jobs from showgirls, bangs his best friend’s wife, tortures a guy, and blows a woman’s brain out in cold blood…amongst other things.
The best part is when Nicky tells Ginger he won’t kill Ace for her…after he’s already threatened to kill Ace. When you have friends like Nicky, who needs enemies?
6) The type-casting of Dick Smothers
How the hell did Dick Smothers get the role of the sleazy, duplicitous state senator? There’s two successive generations of movie-goers who only know Smothers in this role, because by the time “Casino” is made, the bulk of Smothers’ career is soooo 30 years ago. What was the problem? Was Robert Loggia not available?
7) There was an honest-to-goodness felon in this movie
Remember “Trudy,” the co-host/bandleader/bimbo du jour on Rothstein’s television show “Aces High?” “Trudy” was played an actress named Claudia Haro who at the time just so happened to be married to Joe Pesci. Unlike Smothers, we know exactly how she got that role.
But what most don’t know is that after she divorced Pesci, Haro remarried, this time to a stuntman. Apparently that marriage didn’t work either because she was convicted in 2000 for hiring a hitman to kill her husband.
8 ) To make up for that, there was an honest-to-goodness cop in this movie
You’ve got to love a cop who has his own IMDB page. That’s right…Officer Sunglasses was a real Las Vegas Metro Police officer named Randy Sutton. Not only does he have his own IMDB page, “Casino” is not his only film credit. On top of that, he’s been in a crap-load of episodes of the long-running TV series “Cops.” If that weren’t enough, you can book Lieutenant Sutton to an appearance as a motivational speaker.
9) Even Frank Rosenthal hated this movie
Rosenthal is the real-life figure upon which Deniro’s “Ace” is based. When asked about the final cut of “casino,” Rosenthal took particular with several aspects of the move. One reason is that in the movie, “Ace” is shown repeating instructions to employees at least twice. Rosenthal insists he only told people things once; “that’s all I needed.” But what really seemed to frost Frank Rosenthal about this movie was the depiction of his television show. In particular, it was the “Juggling” scene that pissed off Rosenthal.
“I never juggled on ‘The Frank Rosenthal Show.’ I resent that scene. It makes me look foolish.”
Rosenthal went on to say that the scene where he insisted on doing that show so he would “have a platform” was completely false. Rather, Rosenthal said he only did the show at the request of the Stardust Hotel’s chairman of the board so the public might see him as a decent guy and not the mobster being portrayed by the media.
Love it or hate it, there’s really no arguing with Gene Siskel’s assessment. David spade boiled this movie down to two words, and so did Siskel.
You can see all the movies I hate here.
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Good argument, as it’s thorough and compelling! I’ve never seen this movie, so I guess I should consider myself lucky. Thanks for participating in the blogathon! I’ll add your name to the participant list right away. While reading your article, I noticed that the section about Joe Pesci’s character says “massages” when I think you meant to say “messages”. I just wanted to let you know about that.
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I haven’t seen this film, either, although I was impressed by the Look of the film in the Siskel & Ebert clip you posted. Still, your checklist of elements found in previous Scorsese movies made me laugh. I think I’ll skip this one, but I enjoyed your review very much.
I enjoyed Casino, even though I agree with Siskel that it brings nothing new to the Scorsese canon. But I certainly learned a lot with your article – like Officer Sunglasses being a real cop!
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