11/19/2018  
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Settling The Score



Yeah, sure—it was hard getting over Oz's name being in the same league with the likes of Brando, De Niro, and Norton, but all that's forgotten when Marlon smiles for the first time and introduces yet another character that somehow charms the hell outta you. He really is THAT good: a "top dog" talent that redefines technique, and proves that it isn't the amount of screen time you have, but what you do with it that determines your cinematic worth.


I heard that Marlon Brando called director Frank Oz "Miss Piggy" (Frank's the voice of the celebrated foam swine) during the filming of The Score, and that the picture wasn't a classic in the Rififi sense of the word, but you know, the audience held their breath in wild expectation for over 20 minutes, and that's not bad as far as summer flicks go.

Yeah, sure—it was hard getting over Oz's name being in the same league with the likes of Brando, Dinero, and Norton, but all that's forgotten when Marlon smiles for the first time and introduces yet another character that somehow charms the hell outta you. He really is THAT good: a "top dog" talent that redefines technique, and proves that it isn't the amount of screen time you have, but what you do with it that determines your cinematic worth.

De Niro plays De Niro, but you could easily agree that when the script was going through the greenlight Hollywood circus, the "powers that be" simply nodded at one another saying, "Get me Bobby D.! " He had to do it; he just had to. That type of character needed a no-nonsense kinda actor who can still pull off the lead with lots of gusto. I was comfortable, pleased with his performance, and even felt he was the "real deal" when it came to swanky, middle-aged thieves.

Norton's the wise-ass punk, and he's got that character nailed down and all deliciously psychotic. He always surprises me; he's the nerd that won't go down, the skinny tough-guy that throws a punch before you know it. He's the perfect fit; the father, son and holy crap that makes the threesome work the gig. And Angela Bassett is mighty fine too, although she's JUST De Niro's girlfriend: a plot device and nothing more. She had to be; this script just wasn't very good. It was riding on other things. I was glad she gave a fine performance, and wasn't the token black actor that inevitably gets killed.

What makes The Score burn with heated, cruel anticipation is what makes any heist film work: The Heist itself. And with that I've said too much already. It's a thrilling, rapid fire, twisting-in-your-seat, straightforward drama that delivers in the end. Period. Without that pay-off, you would've left the theater grumbling, making Muppet noises at all the other patrons waiting to get in.

As far as Frank and the whole Miss Piggy thing, it's so hard to stuff the ghosts of old career choices into the entertainment closet, and if nothing had gone down as far as Brando was concerned, I for one would've felt a little cheated. He's gotta act-up, be the bad boy, even though he's nearly eighty. Not to mention I also detest the rubber pig and all "she" stands for. Let's be grateful that Frank Oz decided to use the A-list in his casting and not the ludicrous Muppet ensemble. I almost thought the Cookie Monster was going to suddenly appear, all fake and carpet smelling, screaming at the audience reading the final credits, "Go home, Go home, Go home!"

End

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