This is a ridiculous film. Al Pacino and Viggo Mortensen play Puerto Ricans (though Pacino's Italian accent and bizarre voice-modulation fluctuations pop in and out at random), Penelope Ann Miller (who's got one of the most good-girl faces in history) plays a stripper, and Sean Penn plays a curly-wigged, coke-snorting, nebbishy movie-Jew. The supporting cast, much of them actual Latinos and Italians playing Latinos and Italians, seem to have been given this direction: "Okay, Stepin Fetchit it another 10%. That's good. Now, Bumblebee Man from the Simpsons. Alright, that's-a spicy-a meatball-a." Pacino wants to go straight, and is just working at his sleazy lawyer's crime-infested nightclub until he can save 75 grand and realize his dream as a car rental franchise co-owner in the Bahamas. (What the fuck?) In the meantime, he keeps his money in the vault in the club, even though the old owner (who still works there) has an outrageous gambling problem. In the meantime, he beats the shit out of hot-headed gangster Benny Blanco from the Bronx (a pencil-thin-mustachioed John Leguizamo), but lets him go, because hot-headed gangsters who have just been humiliated couldn't possibly get revenge. Could they? I, Carlito, have just closed the book on Benny Blanco from the Bronx. Case closed. I don't know much, but I do know he definitely will not shoot me at the end of the film, even though he most certainly could if he wanted to, because I kicked him down the stairs, called him names, but did not kill him. Only two more days, and I will have my car rental franchise. Or at least my half of the car rental franchise. I rent cars. If I know my movie history, I will get out of this one a-okay.
Having said all that, I had a smile on my face the whole time. The movie is exciting and stylish, and Pacino and Penn both have a lot of fun with their over-the-top roles. It's the kind of movie that has more to do with other movies than with life, but it's also the kind of movie that, when I first saw it in high school, made me like movies.
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