“The Godfather is Boring”

Blowhard, Esq. writes:


When I was a kid, lo these many years ago, “The Godfather” was the go-to guy movie. One of the cable stations (I think it was A&E?) played “The Godfather Saga” regularly. My friend’s father seemed to have it constantly in the VCR. I clearly recall a Playboy playmate saying in her centerfold data sheet “Can you ever watch ‘The Godfather’ too much?” to signal to the boys how cool she was.

But “Goodfellas” seems to have overtaken”The Godfather” as the top guy movie and, apparently, even “Casino” is pulling past Coppola’s mob drama. A couple of comments from a recent”Godfather” v. “Casino” thread:

  • “I know The Godfather is great and we can never say anything is better than it ever. But Casino is better.”
  • I just watched The Godfather for the first time about 2 years ago. It’s well acted and all, but I found it boring as fuck.”
  • “I’ve never fallen asleep during Casino. You’re right. Fuck it. Casino > The Godfather.”

Whoa, wait — what? People think not just that “Casino” is better than “Godfather”, but that the latter is boring? After a highly unscientific Google search, I was surprised to learn that, yeah, a lot of people think it’s a big bore:

  • Why is “The Godfather” considered such a perfect film? “Everybody I’ve spoken to, and every review I’ve seen, praises the living fuck out of the Godfather for every single aspect of it. Nobody can seem to find anything wrong with it at all. But I’ve found one problem with it: It’s BORING!
  • Why is “The Godfather” so highly acclaimed? “However the Godfather 1 and 2 left me bored to tears. …The whole thing feels like an unrealistic soap opera, yet it is acclaimed as one of the greatest movies not just in the genre, but of all time. Can someone explain to me what I’m missing?”
  • Is It Just Me, Or Is The Godfather Overrated? “I was sure I’d be treated to a cinematic tour de force, that I’d never look upon film in the same way again, and that I’d be totally enraptured by the intricacies and relationships of the Corleone family. Instead, I found myself bored, clock-watching, and wishing I was in front of a documentary about holidaying teenagers on BBC Three instead. …What’s perhaps the most frustrating thing is that the basis for a brilliant film is there.”
  • The Godfather: The most boring film ever made. “I mean, let’s face it, it has nothing to do with reality. It moves slowly, almost no action, and the drama that is there……is so artificial that it’s not worth the time by a longshot. And oh, the time… The first one is 175 minutes of pure bore, the other not far off.”

Tastes and sensibilities change, I guess. Just another example of how out of touch I am with current movie culture.

About Blowhard, Esq.

Amateur, dilettante, wannabe.
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17 Responses to “The Godfather is Boring”

  1. peterike says:

    I just re-watched the re-organized, chronological order version of both films currently on HBO Go. There’s both good and bad in that rendition, I think, but in any case I still find it a great and powerful film. Though yes, it’s too slow by today’s standards. Much slower than “Goodfellas,” to say nothing of something like “Pulp Fiction.” The violence is sporadic, though some of it still pretty gruesome. Even now it’s hard to beat someone getting shot in the eye.

    It might be that for current audiences it’s too talk heavy. Everyone’s having conversations all the time, which is of course a great part of the fascination. You see how these people think and feel, not just how they act.

    Another thing: you don’t really have that many hot chicks around. I mean, Diane Keaton? Talia Shire? Lovely ladies, but not any kind of hotties like you’d expect today. There’s not even a scene in a strip club!

    Finally, the time line. It ends where, in the mid 1960s? It’s ancient history for kids today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thursday says:

    A lot of younger people have the attention span of a house fly. Movies have to be whoosh whoosh chucka chucka the whole way through now.

    Casino is pretty good, but there are some really tin eared moments, like giving voice overs to the Joe Pesci character.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. JV says:

    I think Casino is a better movie than Goodfellas, and it’s probably more eminently rewatchable than The Godfather. It’s the movie version of a quick read. Really well plotted and paced, and the acting is top notch. But for chrissakes, The Godfather is modern day Shakespeare. It has so much more to say about life, family, business, America, etc. etc. I take comfort in that all of the links you provide in the post are from sites frequented mostly by high school and college aged dudes. They ain’t ready yet, I suppose (and hope).

    The point about hot chicks is a good one. Diane Keaton and Talia Shire and perfectly attractive women, but they’re not toned and hot like, say, Sharon Stone. Every movie these days, even most art house flicks, are required to have at least one unreasonably gorgeous woman to fawn over. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy looking at them, but I think people from Gen Y on down are conditioned to expect that, and have a hard time sitting through a movie without that kinds of visual stimulation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Chris says:

    This is interesting. I wonder how much of this is just the usual loud uber-minority looking for a way to be controversial versus a real generational difference. I’m a young GenXer and I love the Godfather movies. I especially love their slow and confident pace. But I know that I often disagree on movie quality with the few Millennials I know.

    To be fair, some parts of the movies have aged poorly for me as well. I always want to cut out Keaton’s and Shire’s scenes in Godfather I, as their acting is not particularly effective. A couple scenes are bad enough that it brings me out of the movie zone, which I hate! I thought both were much better in II.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jjbees says:

    We live in the golden age of television, not film. The Sopranos is far superior to anything of the same genre in film format that is made now.

    Part of the problem is inherent in the changing of the film industry to a winner take all, appeal to the lowest common denominator situation. Movies need to be action packed, never stopping for a moment, or else you’re losing the dumb, the inattentive, the smartphone addicted, the dumb majority that you need to make a profit. Competing films like Bad Boys are great, but it is comparing apples to oranges.

    A movie like The Godfather is excellent, not for its pacing, but for the slow meandering journey you take through the life of a mafioso. The scenes where Corleone goes to Italy and meets and marries his wife are excellent. The movie isn’t in any rush to get you to the next big shoot out, it’s there in the distance, but while we are here, let us be here. The literary equivalent of The Godfather is “The Secret Garden” which slowly unveils the inner worlds of the characters over many scenes and much exposition, and any film that does this is great.

    Recent movies I watched in the similar slow and sweet pace include Frank (2014) and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (2003). Both excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Coppola’s *Godfather* films were high on the list of flicks I could not wait to share with my kiddies, once they were old enough to “get it.” I figured ages 14 and 16 were about right, and queued up the first disc on movie night. To my horror, I realized my daughters both thought it a complete snooze — even after the horse in the bed.

    I first saw ‘Casablanca’ when I was 20 years old, in 1985. My first viewing of it was soured with profound disbelief. All those Bugs Bunny jokes and cheap used car-lot cable ads voiced-over by Bogart apers — were they really in homage TO THIS?!? I suspect Coppola’s Godfather movies have reached pretty much the same consciousness-saturation.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. fenster says:

    Video killed the radio star. And in this day and age of kiss kiss bang bang bang bang bang bang bang, where is there room for what amounts to opera? And by opera I don’t just mean “long”–The Sopranos was long. It’s the pacing–the very thing people now find “boring”.

    I also think that part–not all–of the appeal of The Godfather is moored in the ethnic circumstances of its time. In the sixties and seventies we were substantially more conflicted than we are today about what it means to be an Italian-American. A common myth was that the Mafia didn’t really, really exist. Sure there were criminals, but to say there was an actual Italian criminal enterprise smacked of bias. There were protests from Italian-Americans when the movie came out. Crime syndicates were called things like The Company or The Outfit, led by people named Brewster and Carter. Joe Valachi’s Congressional testimony was a sensation.

    So I think there was some exhilaration, or lift, that the movie imparted in its time by virtue of it being a kind of coming out party for Italians. In time Italians embraced it–indeed luxuriated in it. Maybe you can argue that the follow-ons were better movies technically or formally (though you can’t convince me of that). But there was a real frisson to the original that it hard to capture after the changes the original wrought.


  8. agnostic says:

    The Godfather is boring, not because of its slow pacing, which was a staple in other classics from the Seventies, but because the pacing doesn’t enhance the subject matter — mafia machinations, feuds, drive-by shootings, etc., all call for a little more energy and action. Goodfellas and Casino are superior at getting the pacing to enhance the plot.

    In other ’70s classics that use slow pacing, the plot and especially the *atmosphere* is more mature, murky, and sinister. Chinatown, Three Days of the Condor, The Parallax View, The Exorcist — their slow pacing amplifies the disturbing lack of clarity about what the hell is going on in their world. That lasted into the early ’80s, for that matter, and with more popular-audience movies — Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, First Blood, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T.

    In The Godfather, the only lack of clarity is who is on whose side, who will betray who else and for what motive, will they retaliate and if so, how and when and where, etc. There’s no fundamental uncertainty in the world in which they’re set. As such, the slow pacing doesn’t serve to evoke a sinister or murky atmosphere, but merely to draw out the plot reveals and try to keep viewers guessing about who-gonna-do-it.

    Perhaps the greatest aspect of the Godfather series is the cinematography by Gordon Willis, and I think most people who remember the movies with rose-tinted glasses are probably thinking of how wonderfully shot it is. That is, aside from those who feel compelled to praise it just cuz some graying culture maven told them to.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. agnostic says:

    I’ve never re-watched any of the Godfather movies, whereas I’ve watched Goodfellas many times from the ’90s onward. Only saw Casino recently, but would def watch again. All the others I mentioned (and neglected, like Jaws), I’ve watched many times, whether I first saw them as a child, teenager, or adult.

    That was not out of an iconoclastic rebellion either; I’ve never made a point of talking about how underwhelming they were until now. I’d heard them hyped up, watched them, thought they were pretty good, but ultimately never felt compelled to return to them. Ditto for Apocalypse Now, although if I had to choose a Coppola movie to re-watch, I’d do that one. He just doesn’t seem to be one of the great directors.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Matra says:

    The Godfather is boring, not because of its slow pacing, which was a staple in other classics from the Seventies, but because the pacing doesn’t enhance the subject matter — mafia machinations, feuds, drive-by shootings, etc., all call for a little more energy and action.

    If it were a mere crime/action film that would be true but it’s a thematically heavy film so the slow pacing allows all the themes to develop.

    For Casino the problem for most of us was that we saw it after Goodfellas. Given their similarities – style, narrative, even some of the same actors, same bands in soundtrack etc – Casino just felt like a rehash of Goodfellas in a different setting. When I saw it again a decade or so later with fresh eyes I was surprised by how much more I enjoyed it the second time round.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. agnostic says:

    As I recall it, the heavy larding of Big Timeless Themes in the Godfather series was, well, heavy-handed and intended as an act of self-promotion by Coppola — to show what a Big Timeless Thinker he was, that this wasn’t just another schlocky crime flick. And to make the characters seem and sound like philosophers.

    The better mafia movies — Goodfellas, Casino, even Scarface — allow the grittiness and nastiness of their world to come through. Whether you like dirty and gritty or not, the effort feels sincere and allows you to suspend disbelief and get into the movie. With the glossier stylization of the Godfather movies, it feels more like a put-on and makes you raise your guard against accepting its pretenses.

    Tarantino seems to descend more from Coppola than Scorsese. He’s certainly more overt, in-your-face, and ironic / self-aware about what he’s doing, but it’s the same basic approach as Coppola’s — trying to build up the mob world into something greater than it is, and to make the characters deliver BigThink essays and proverbs through their dialog. (I’m basing this on Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, the only two of his that I’ve seen.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • JV says:

      “He’s certainly more overt, in-your-face, and ironic / self-aware about what he’s doing, but it’s the same basic approach as Coppola’s — trying to build up the mob world into something greater than it is, and to make the characters deliver BigThink essays and proverbs through their dialog”

      I don’t think that’s what Coppola was trying to do at all. He was using the mob as a vehicle to explore themes like family, money, the American Dream, etc. The mob is useful here because those themes can be crystallized with the extreme behavior that comes with organized crime. Writers have used war in the same manner.

      To me, it seems like you’re judging the movie on the basis of an action flick, and finding it wanting. Well sure, it ain’t an action flick. It’s also not meant to be a mob expose or even realistic, necessarily. On that note, I’ve found that younger people get hung up on movies being “realistic” or not. My kids complain about that all the time. With movies that intend to be realistic portrayals of this or that, that criticism is valid. But a lot of art, hell I’d say most good art, isn’t realistic at all, The Godfather included.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. gwilliams01 says:

    Funny enough, I tried to watch The Godfather for the 10th time today before turning it off and looked up on Google whether I’m the only one who finds it boring. I just don’t get it. I’ve been through 2001. I’ve been through and enjoyed the hell out of The Graduate. Blade Runner too wasn’t that bad. I gotta enjoy The Godfather, right? Roger Ebert approved it. Everyone I’ve encountered and talked to, the average movie folks or film buffs approved it. But there’s something about The Godfather that makes me question about my mental health…Do I have ADD or it’s just not my cup of tea?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. plwinkler says:

    The two Godfather films are directed in what I can only call a naturalistic style. If it seems slowly paced, well, life is usually slowly paced. How many of us are going to go through a day like Bruce Willis’ character in Die Hard, to cite just one example? Contemporary films use shorter scenes and lots more camera moves and edits than most 70s films.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Kevin O'Keeffe says:

    I find myself in disagreement with both extremes of this debate, which is to say, yes, “The Godfather” IS overrated. Almost any film praised as much as it is, would have to be. I prefer “Goodfellas,” as the ultimate mobster flick. But at the same time, it (“The Godfather”) is an excellent film, and this talk of its being “boring,” leaves me feeling a trifle embarrassed for the people making such a claim.


  15. Benny says:

    Help me understand why I was thoroughly engaged by “The Offer”, which is about the making of The Godfather but found the actual movie a snooze fest? Goodfella’s is one of my favorite movies. So it’s not about the subject matter nor is it about having the attention span to appreciate a slow pace character driven plot. Otherwise I would not have binge watched The Queen’s Gambit. I think there is merit to it just being a boring film.


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