Review: The Score

Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, The Score
Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro swap Method stories in The Score

 

 

Frank Oz is apparently a bit sniffy about being described as the man who used to be Miss Piggy. Here he directs Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando and Ed Norton in a one-last-heist movie and discovers that big hitters aren’t quite so easy to fist as a porker made of felt.

Bob, Marlon and Ed play, respectively, a jazz-loving master thief hoping to go out on a financial high, his lispingly effeminate fence and the cocky wannabe eager to learn at the master’s feet. A wasted Angela Bassett plays De Niro’s girlfriend. (Well, not entirely wasted. At least the producers got to tick the boxes marked “female” and “black”.)

We’re in the middle of a run of heist movies right now – Blow, The Heist, Ocean’s Eleven, Swordfish are all in theatres or on the way. And in every one of them there will be a point when the criminal mastermind outlines the plan to his waiting accomplices, starting with the line “Gentlemen, I think we know why we’re here” or its equivalent. You know, the bit where we’re told what’s meant to happen, so we can sit back and watch it all unfold, or not. The Score seems to think it’s that sort of film.

But. In a heist movie you root for the felons and marvel at their mission impossible. In The Score this never happens. Partly because the heist scenes are too long-winded, but mostly because Oz lets his Method Giants get away with flatulent “improv” scenes in which Bob mumbles, Marlon pretends not to be Mr Creosote and Ed hovers at the edges like the cloakroom boy at the eunuchs orgy. Which only leaves the minor characters for Oz to direct. Watch them closely. The bizarre faces, the funny voices, the tendency to wisecrack and look into the wings. And suddenly you realise with delicious irony that the director who now barely mentions the Henson years on his CV has given us Muppet Movie: The Heist.

© Steve Morrissey 2001

 

The Score – at Amazon

 

 

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  • The Score (2001) Action, Crime, Drama | 2h 4min | 13 July 2001 (USA) 6.8
    Director: Frank OzWriters: Daniel E. Taylor, Kario SalemStars: Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Marlon BrandoSummary: Three generations of method acting giants unite for this crime thriller written by Kario Salem and directed by Frank Oz. Robert De Niro stars as Nick Wells, an aging thief whose specialty is safe-cracking and who is on the verge of retiring to a life of ease, running his jazz club and romancing his girlfriend Diane (Angela Bassett). But before he can ride off into the sunset, Nick is pressured to do one last job by his mentor and business partner, a flamboyant and extravagant upscale fence named Max (Marlon Brando). Max is plotting the heist of the Montreal Customs House, and he's got a man on the inside, Jackie Teller (Edward Norton), a talented but volatile crook who has managed to ingratiate himself with the facility's staff as a fellow employee suffering from cerebral palsy. Jackie bristles at Nick's interference in "his" score, however, and threatens violence when it seems he's going to be cut out of the action. In the meantime, Nick grows increasingly ill at ease about the ...

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