Reviewed on 2007 April 4
The Godfather was a more sweeping tale of a crime family, but I think Goodfellas does a better job of showing the allure, and all that money. Besides, it’s based on a true story.
Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) wanted to be a gangster pretty much since he could look out the window and see the rich, powerful neighborhood wiseguys driving expensive cars and wearing expensive suits. Young Henry (Christopher Serrone) is very perceptive. He sees the difference in the way men like Paul Cicero (Paul Sorvino) and “schnooks” like his dad (Beau Starr) are treated. Paul takes Henry under his wing and teaches him everything about the syndicate, and even gives him a couple of mentors. The scary Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) and the only marginally more stable Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) are frightening but they tutor Henry well. Paul sees what a quick study he is and warms to him, giving him only one warning: do not touch drugs. His biggest fear is being locked up for something someone in his crew did, that he may not even know about. Henry promises him he won’t but the allure of all that drug money is too strong, eclipsing even the other successful heists.
Once again, Scorsese tells a vivid, violent story, accentuated with universally good acting and an amazing soundtrack. Sorvino’s portrayal of Cicero is at times so paternal that you can see how someone like Henry Hill would have been drawn into the life. Liotta is a wonderful Hill, and nobody can do “insane gangster” like Joe Pesci. It all adds up to another lengthy movie that’s so engrossing you don’t even notice the 145 minute run time.
Four chocolate morsels.