The Irishman Parent Guide
A cast this good deserves an outstanding script: this one is merely competent.
Parent Movie Review
Frank Sheeran (Robert DeNiro), a veteran of the Italian campaign in WWII, has been working as a truck driver in Philadelphia since coming home from the war. Until, that is, he is approached by Russell Bufelino (Joe Pesci) of the Bufelino crime family, who helps him get work with his local teamsters’ union, while he moonlights for them as a hitman. Moving from squabbles with rival gangsters, to problems within the crime family, to the rivalries with Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) inside the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Frank keeps busy for the next few decades - the services of a hitman are seldom in small demand.
At its heart, this is a movie about ageing, which is fitting for a film that’s going to cost you nearly four hours of your own life. On the plus side, you can break that time up however you want, since The Irishman is only available on Netflix after its brief theatrical run. You don’t have to worry about bathroom breaks here, thanks to the pause button. The downside is that the extended runtime it plays havoc with the pacing. When the film is going well, it’s among Scorsese’s best at building tension and conflict before erupting into violence. When it’s not, you’re watching a long series of “Tony told Russell to tell me to tell you” conversations.
This is a prototypical Scorsese movie, and I wish it had been a little more daring. I enjoyed it but would have preferred to see it take some risks and move in new directions. If you’re going to release a three-and-a-half hour movie on Netflix, you’ve got the freedom to try something different. As is, this feels like a slightly less impressive version of Goodfellas, which is even more disappointing when you look at the cast: DeNiro, Pesci, and Pacino are essentially the dream team for any gangster film. A cast this good deserves an outstanding script and this one is simply competent. The lost opportunity here is heartbreaking for any hardcore movie buff.
Obviously, as with nearly all other gangster movies, this film is grossly unsuitable for family viewing. The profanity alone would make it inadvisable to watch with children or teens or even your mother-in-law, but the violence is brutal and frequently glorified. I realize that it’s impossible to make a realistic gangster movie without these content issues: after all, organized crime families are seldom known for their soft-spoken nature or proclivities toward pacificism. What it boils down to is that gangster movies make poor family films and are only suitable for adult fans of the genre.
So, while Scorsese has still got a talent for shooting, scoring, and directing, The Irishman suffers from a lack of originality and too little film on the cutting room floor. You could easily knock out half an hour of this film and still have essentially the same product - better, even, since the pacing would be more consistent. Stellar performances from DeNiro, Pesci, and Pacino are enough to make this worth watching for genre fans, but for everyone else, there’s no crime in missing it.Directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. Running time: 209 minutes. Theatrical release November 1, 2019. Updated January 23, 2020
Watch the trailer for The Irishman
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Irishman rated R? The Irishman is rated R by the MPAA for pervasive language and strong violence.
Violence: Half a dozen individuals are graphically shot in the head. A chicken is killed in a restaurant. A man is thrown to the street and beaten severely. An individual is strangled and their body is fed into a woodchipper. An individual is shown being cremated. Several explosions occur, some with implied fatalities.
Sexual Content: There is a brief non-explicit reference to adultery.
Profanity: There are approximately 200 uses of profanity in the film, including 136 uses of a sexual expletive, 19 uses of a crude sexual expression, 18 uses of scatological cursing, and perhaps two dozen uses of profanities in other categories.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are frequently shown drinking socially in bars and restaurants.
Page last updated January 23, 2020
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There are no family-friendly films in this genre. But for adults, similar films include Scorsese classics like Goodfellas, Casino, The Departed, and Gangs of New York. The Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is commonly hailed as one of the best gangster films ever made. Earlier examples include 1932’s Scarface, 1931’s Little Caesar, and 1949’s White Heat.
DeNiro and Pacino can be seen butting heads as a determined robber and a frustrated police detective in Heat, also starring Val Kilmer.
If you enjoy semi-historical films with strong directorial style and absurd runtimes, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood is right up your alley.