They Wanted to Be Pacino

Earning a website like Bad Pacino doesn’t come easily. It takes a career of toil, of doing the dirty jobs nobody wanted to do, of dressing up in Dick Tracy for instance. It’s like losing 20 games in a season. It takes a certain talent to pitch in enough games to lose 20.

Here are five actors who could have been considered for the gig:

5. Harrison Ford. Well, they don’t come any more iconic than Indiana Here’s the problem. If Ford were good or bad, would you notice? Could you notice? Or is when like that atomic clock the Navy has loses a second or two. We certainly can’t feel it. Ford is a man of two faces and they usually come in direct sequence: 1) surprise/shock/incredulity and 2) serious jaw-setting. Here’s a test: Pacino has played a CIA officer (The Recruit), but Ford, to my knowledge, has never played Satan. Or a Cuban. Or a football coach. Or a blind Marine colonel. Or the mayor of New York. You beginning to get it?

4. Nicholas Cage. Another sort of unstoppable force. Everytime you write him off, he pulls a “National Treasure” He’s Italian like Al. Has mysterious hair like Al. And he just won’t stop working, just like Al. Imdb tells us he is already booked through 2010. He’s made movies no one has ever heard of, even people who just subscribe to Encore. Next? The Wicker Man? The Weather Man? Those last two aren’t even the same movie! (Like maybe a few posters got mixed up in overseas markets.)

Here’s the problem. It’s going to take some time for Bad Pacino to figure out Al’s true Good-Bad ratio. It’s a lifetime of work, in fact, like codifying and sequencing DNA. It takes no time at all to figure out Nic’s career stats. Roughly 5:1.

So say you liked Raising Arizona? That just allows you to take Fire Birds, Guarding Tess, Amos & Andrew, It Could Happen to You and Kiss of Death off the table. And none of those movies are as recent as 13 years ago! And, my God, we haven’t gotten to the Bruckheimer movies yet.

3. Dustin Hoffman. I’m sure if we asked, he would take the gig. Not working as much as he used to. Could use a career boost like Bill Hurt’s been getting, maybe land in something like A History of Violence instead of, say, Meet the Fockers. The 70s are even longer ago for Dustin than Al. Both went into a mid 1980s power dive and you could argue that Hoffman’s never quite been the same. In fact, even if you liked him in Rain Man (and plenty of people didn’t), that movie stands alone as an achievement after the glory days ended with Tootsie.

Check this out:

  1. (2007) …. Mr. Edward Magorium, Avid Shoe-Wearer
  2. Stranger Than Fiction (2006) …. Professor Jules Hilbert
  3. Racing Stripes (2005) (voice) …. Tucker
  4. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) (uncredited) …. The Critic
    … aka Lemony Snicket – Rätselhafte Ereignisse (Germany)
  5. Meet the Fockers (2004) …. Bernie Focker
  6. I Heart Huckabees (2004) …. Bernard
    … aka I Love Huckabees (USA: alternative title)
  7. Finding Neverland (2004) …. Charles Frohman
  8. Runaway Jury (2003) …. Wendell Rohr
  9. Confidence (2003) …. Winston King
  10. Moonlight Mile (2002) …. Ben Floss
  11. “Liberty’s Kids: Est. 1776” …. Benedict Arnold (1 episode)
  12. (1999) …. The Conscience
  13. Sphere (1998) …. Dr. Norman Goodman
  14. Wag the Dog (1997) …. Stanley Motss
  15. Mad City (1997) …. Max Brackett
  16. Sleepers (1996) …. Danny Snyder
  17. American Buffalo (1996) …. Walt ‘Teach’ Teacher
  18. Outbreak (1995) …. Col. Sam Daniels
  19. Hero (1992/I) …. Bernard ‘Bernie’ Laplante
    … aka Accidental Hero
  20. Hook (1991) …. Capt. Hook
  21. Billy Bathgate (1991) …. Dutch Schultz
  22. Dick Tracy (1990) …. Mumbles
  23. (1989) …. Vito McMullen

You ever seen a list like this? It’s about as attractive as the “Casual Encounters” section of Craigslist. Kids movies? Grisham novels? Captain freaking Hook? I left out his role as the cross-dressing cockroach. And I am so not making that up. It’s been over for a long, long time.

2. Jack Nicholson. Yes, he’s a titan. Yes, he enjoys a similar kill ratio as Big Al’s. Yes, he’s even played Satan. But frankly, the overexposure is a turn off, the Lakers games and the arching eyebrows at the Academy Awards. He’s got all the press he’ll ever need. And I’ll never forgive him for telling Helen Hunt that she made him want to be a better man. Man, if I ran into that character she played in As Good as It Gets, she’d make me want to become a Trappist Monk and raise beagles or whetever they do. But Jack, doesn’t mean I don’t wanna grab a drink if you’re in town. Seriously. And I liked The Two Jakes.

1. Bobby DeNiro. Unavoidable. These two. This thing they do. The’ve walked the same path for so long, we think of them together. (And in fact, they are teaming up this summer in Righteous Kill, which is an, ugh, serial killer movie. Great idea!) Bobby, and hey, can I call him Bobby, he’s been up and down. Not as down as Al got for a time, but down nonetheless. But he’s mellowed as he’s grown older. He’s learned to poke fun of himself. The glory that is Pacino is that he still takes himself as seriously as ever has, more than we ever will. Wouldn’t you have loved to see Al in Meet The Parents? (“I am taking you dowwwwwn, dowwwwnnn to China-TOWN, you son uvva bitch.”)

HONORABLE MENTION: Gene Hackman. Because he’s always the honorable mention.


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