MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Jack Nicholson as JIMMY HOFFA
Danny DeVito as BOBBY CIARO
Armand Assante as CAROL D’ALLESANDRO
J.T. Walsh as FRANK FITZSIMMONS
John C. Reilly as PETE CONNELLY
Frank Whaley as YOUNG KID
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Danny DeVito
BY KEVIN CARR
I remember the winter of 1992 when “Hoffa” came out. Even though I was in the know about Jimmy Hoffa and his history, I wanted to see the film for my love of Danny DeVito. I ended up seeing it in early 1993, and while I recognized the film as being a bit clunky at times, I could not deny the spectacular look and feel the DeVito gave it.
The story follows the rise to power of Jimmy Hoffa and his last days on Earth (before he ended up buried in the concrete under the end zone, presumably). Jack Nicholson plays the title characters, and now looking at the film 20 years after it was released, I have a greater appreciation for his work.
Nicholson was ridiculed for his prosthetic nose and wise-guy delivery of the lines. However, after years of just seeing Jack play Jack, I can appreciate him trying to do something different. In fact, aside from “About Schmidt,” I can’t remember a time when Nicholson actually tried to become a character that’s different from his own self-imposed caricature.
“Hoffa” suffers from many of the problems that biopics do, including inconsistent storytelling, gray characters and a soft resolution. However, the brilliant cinematography and vision of the film make it a must see.
More over, “Hoffa” is as relevant now as it was when it was made, and as much as it was when it took place. With attacks on organized labor hitting a stride recently in our political system, it’s worth noting that things used to be quite terrible just a generation or two ago.
Features on the Blu-ray include commentary by DeVito, deleted scenes, historical news coverage, personal anecdotes from Teamsters, special shots, a production gallery and the shooting script. There are also featurettes: “The Music of Hoffa: A Conversation with Danny DeVito and Compose David Newman,” “Danny DeVito’s Speech at the Teamsters Convention in Las Vegas, 2011,” “DeVito’s 11 1/4,” “Siskel & Ebert” and a discussion after the first script read-through.