FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE YET TO SEE THE OFFER, THIS IS A NON-SPOILER REVIEW.
The Offer is another huge swing-for-the-fences series from streamer Paramount+…Who in the last couple of months has really been trying to prove that they are worth your dollar in this crowded marketplace with 1883 and Halo. It is exciting to see the platform finally Offer some real quality original programming. Because there was a moment there that I thought this streamer was going to become obsolete. And though they will need to continue this hot streak to be able to compete with the likes of Netflix and Apple TV+, I would say The Offer is definitely worth you forking out the $4.99 subscription or at least doing the month-trial.
WHAT IS THE OFFER ALL ABOUT?
The show chronicles the making of the 1972 film The Godfather, through the eyes of Oscar-Winning producer Albert S. Ruddy. The tagline of the series is “The Greatest Movie Almost Never Made”… As the film was plagued by financial woes, a struggling studio, warring mobsters, an infamously difficult leading man, stubborn executives, and dirty politics… to name just a few things that stood in The Godfather’s way.
WILL YOU ENJOY IT EVEN IF YOU AREN’T THE BIGGEST FAN OF THE MOVIE?
I think it’s best for me to be forthcoming and say that I have only seen the first Godfather film. And not the second or the maligned third chapter. Although I respect its craft and legacy, I wouldn’t necessarily go as far to say that it is one of my favorite films of all time. So, I was going into The Offer as most probably will… With not a whole lot of expectations and a minimal amount of knowledge about the making of the movie.
But, by the end of the first episode, I knew that something really special was in store. And by the end of the series, which runs for ten episodes, I felt like not only had I gotten a fascinating history lesson, but one in which I got to be a fly-on-the-wall to experience a time in Hollywood that is long gone. I savored every moment of The Offer, even throughout some of its messiness… Because I could feel the passion for the original film it was depicting and the love for the movie-making process, radiating off the screen.
HOW INTERESTING IS THE MOVIEMAKING ASPECT OF THE SHOW?
I would say that the series operates on two different levels. One where we follow the behind-the-scenes look of the making of the movie. And then another, where we follow the real-life mobsters that inspired the original book The Godfather that Mario Puzo wrote through first-hand knowledge. I think that The Offer absolutely excels in the former. It is riveting television to watch from the very beginning… Where the script is being written by Coppola and Puzo, to the chaos of the boardrooms with Paramount executives who can’t seem to all be on the same page about what film they are trying to make… all the way to the casting process, and then to when the movie is finally being filmed and experiencing every pitfall you could imagine. I honestly could not get enough of it.
The arduous process of making movies has been translated onto the screen more times than anyone could count. David Fincher just took a shot at it (and in my opinion failed with Mank). But, very rarely has it been done with such explosiveness, passion, and painstaking care to rival the magic of the movies, themselves. And I believe that The Offer is able to do that.
DOES THE OFFER DEPICT HOLLYWOOD TRUTHFULLY?
Why I think it worked so much, is because the series and its writers are not afraid to show the nasty side of Old Hollywood… With its blatant racism and sexism, and pure hypocrisy and nihilism right alongside the façade of the glitz and glamor. It’s a bit meta watching a show about the dark side of Paramount’s history on the studio’s streaming platform, so many years later… but, it adds to The Offer’s charm, nonetheless. And while there are all of these grim truths being displayed… The series is also just as breezy and fun to watch, as well. I never felt like it was taking itself too seriously because it had to do the legendary film’s namesake justice… The Offer operates as a juicy expose of entertainment, just as much as it does, an important history lesson.
HOW IS THE ENSEMBLE CAST?
One way that you can see that the show is not taking itself too seriously, is through the performances. And I must admit, they do all range in quality. It’s especially hard when you are recasting so many different actors to play extremely well-known figures in real life. No one was expecting the guy who played Alex Karev on Grey’s Anatomy, Justin Chambers, to play a perfect Marlon Brando performing as Don Corleone… but, there is still much to be desired there and it just somehow feels, off. Even worse, is Giovanni Ribisi (who I usually love). Who plays gangster Joe Colombo, as if he had been rebirthed as Kermit the Frog, with a confounding and distracting voice and accent.
Many of the other performers fare far better though. Miles Teller has never been more likable (though that’s not saying much) as our lead protagonist Al Ruddy. You feel for this guy because everything is falling apart around him and he is the sole person responsible, to hold it all together and keep it afloat. Matthew Goode is having the time of his life playing the cocaine-fueled vice president of Paramount, Robert Evans, sporting a mightily nasty sinus infection and a penchant for drinking and drugging too much… Goode is just plain wildly entertaining in the role.
Juno Temple is captivating to watch as always… Playing one of only two female leads in the series (which I suppose is, sadly, faithful to the time that the series is depicting). But, the real MVP here is Dan Fogler, who plays the iconic director Francis Ford Coppola. Not only does Fogler disappear into the role physically, but he also captures the manic creativity, desperation, and fiery passion of the filmmaker, perfectly. This guy continues to be the bright spot of every project he is in.
DOES THE “MOBSTER DRAMA” WORK?
Unfortunately, I do think the “mobster drama” of The Offer, is where it falters. I get that it’s almost the hook of the show… That there was an ironic mafia war going on behind the scenes of The Godfather… but, these scenes almost took me out of the show entirely. I was so invested in the examination of the process of the movie being made… That every time it switched gears to Colombo or his adversaries, I immediately began to tune out.
I also think that there is so much going on and so much story to tell… Sometimes The Offer can get lost in it all. One moment an episode is concentrating on the studio’s hatred for Al Pacino and Ruddy’s quest to make the executives see him as the perfect Michael, then it sidelines that for relationship drama, then to Brando finding a stray cat that he wants to film an iconic scene with, then all of a sudden we are thrown into the lighting guy throwing a tantrum… I just feel as if there were so many crazy moments and fun asides in the making of this movie and the creators of The Offer wanted to include them all… so, sometimes it feels as if these things are stitched together haphazardly, rather than creating a cohesive narrative.
IS THIS SERIES WORTH WATCHING?
Other than those few things, I absolutely adored this limited series. From the moment I turned it on, all the way to its tenth episode’s finale… I was captivated by this stranger-than-fiction true story. It’s one of the few limited series this year that I felt was the perfect length, with a runtime that just flew by… rather than stretching a simple story to its limits. I also think that if you are a fan of movies in general, you will be fascinated by getting to see how one of the greatest of all time, came to be made. You really can’t deny the magic of the movies… or in the case of The Offer, television is about the magic of making the movies.
The Offer premieres its first three episodes on Paramount+ on April 28th, 2022.
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