music friday, baker's dozen edition
what i watched last week

by request: midnight run (martin brest, 1988)

This is not exactly a request … a few people asked that I take a look at the movies that just missed my Facebook Fave Fifty list, and I had Midnight Run at #53.

It is a movie that “remembers well” … when you think about, there is a lot that brings pleasure. I don’t know that it’s really the 53rd-best movie of all time, but it was a list of favorites, and in that respect, 53 might be a bit low. Back in 2008, I wrote:

Why is Midnight Run so much better than other “guy movies”? It's not like I feel the need to watch fifteen minutes of Tango and Cash whenever it turns up on TV, the way I do with Midnight Run. I'd say the connection between Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin is a large part of it; they really click together. Dennis Farina has his greatest role. They say the word "fuck" 132 times. But perhaps the main reason we watch it over and over is the endlessly quotable dialogue. How quotable? If I check the Memorable Quotes page at the IMDB, Midnight Run gets six full screens on my monitor. That's more than, say, Analyze This, another DeNiro comedy that was a lot more popular at the box office. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to make myself a sandwich, drink a glass of milk, do some fuckin' thing.

That really does sum it up well. You can look a bit deeper and see that I’m describing a movie that isn’t up to anything new. It fits comfortably into the “buddy movie” genre. But the two leads are not just terrific … they are better than just about any similar pairing in a similar genre picture you can think of. And to say Dennis Farina makes the most of his lesser role is to understate things … it is the ultimate Dennis Farina role. Watching it again, I noticed how absent women are from the movie, which is also fairly standard for the genre, but it’s a point that can’t be ignored. And Danny Elfman’s score is too generic … if the movie as a whole does wonders within the genre structure, Elfman just sounds like an uninteresting variation on what came before.

It’s my favorite Charles Grodin movie, my favorite Dennis Farina movie, my favorite Joe Pantoliano movie, my favorite Yaphet Kotto movie, and the only reason it isn’t my favorite Robert DeNiro movie is because he’s made so many great ones. It’s #832 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time. 8/10. For more Dennis Farina, try Get Shorty (or dig up Michael Mann’s TV series, Crime Story). And if you’re in the mood for Joe Pantoliano, try Bound.