- Movie Rating -

Author! Author! (1982)

| June 18, 1982

It is tough to write a movie about a writer.  What are the tenants?  Writer’s block, deadlines, weak material, slipping potential.  The most dramatic scenes involving a writer writing are to watch him at his typewriter pulling out the paper, balling it up and throwing it over his shoulder.  The problem is that this is not enough formula for a movie, you need something else coming on.  When it works, the story can be good, The Lost Weekend is a good example.  All the President’s Men is another.  It’s not about the craft, but about the orbit.  What is going on is what is either fueling or not fueling the writer’s ambitions.

Author! Author! doesn’t realize this.  Al Pacino is inexplicably cast as a playwright.  He has a play that is opening very soon but the material needs work.  He has trouble with his wife, who is about to leave him, and his girlfriend who doesn’t want the domestic life or, really, to deal with his kids. With that drama in place, it is hard to get down to work.

A-number-one problem!  I never believed Al Pacino as a playwright, a husband, a boyfriend or a father of five kids.  This is the actor that I recognize most for playing Michael Corleone in The Godfather, as the hapless bank robber in Dog Day Afternoon and as an honest cop in a corrupt precinct in Serpico.  I even loved him in the little-seen A Panic in Needle Park.  He’s best playing men whose life is on the line, who has been pushed to the brink and whose desperation is vibrating under the surface.  That does not extend to never having time to tighten up his latest play.

He’s all wrong here.  I never buy Pacino as the domestic type.  Worse, I never believed that he was a playwright, which seems to have been grafted onto the character to give him a dramatic arc.  Author! Author! is a withering TV-style drama that has no punch, no life, no substance.  It’s all about manufactured soap opera stuff, things that pop up just because the movie needs something to happen.  Author! Author! is Awful! Awful!

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1982) View IMDB Filed in: Drama