Late to the mountains of cocaine! A review of Scarface

All I have in this world is my balls and my word and I don’t break them for no one.

LTTM Review:

I’m a little confused about Scarface. Somewhere I got it in my head that everyone, I mean EVERYONE, loved Scarface. I suppose I should blame the years of my watching MTV Cribs for that misconception. But I know FOR SURE that Scarface was a movie that drew gasps from at least a few people when I admitted to never seeing it. But who were those people? Seriously, I asked several friends to write a prologue to Scarface and all of them said, “Meh. I don’t care about Scarface.” Checking Rotten Tomatoes, I see that Scarface has an 88% rating from critics and a 92% rating from users. So are my friends wrong? Who knows.

I’ve never seen a Brian De Palma movie (or an Oliver Stone movie for that matter [okay, now I’m being corrected because I have seen The Doors]) so I didn’t really know what to expect going into this movie. However, I have seen Godfather (I and II) and I absolutely love Al Pacino as Michael Corleone. Since that’s the only movie I’ve seen Al Pacino in, it took a little getting used to seeing him playing a new character. And by “it” I mean the accent. Truthfully I felt as if I was watching Michael Corleone pretend to be Cuban through the entire movie. When you watch two movies over and over again and one actor plays that same character in both of them so well, it is difficult to see him as anyone else.

I absolutely HATED Michelle Pfeiffer in this movie. I don’t have much to say about it except I just cringed every time she was on screen. I don’t know if I didn’t like how the character was written or if it was the acting, but when I think of women doing an outstanding job of playing drug-addicted wives in gangster movies, Lorraine Bracco and Sharon Stone come to mind. Michelle Pfeiffer was nowhere near their league.

I also really disliked the role of the sister in the movie. It seemed like her story was an additional sub-plot that was thrown in at the last minute. And at the end after everything happened with Manny, things got very weird. The whole incest “twist” grossed me out and was unnecessary to complete the story. I did like her hair though.

Aside from the women in the movie, I did enjoy it. While I don’t think it was Oscar-worthy I liked the overall story and I thought Michael Pacino/Al Corleone did a great job with Tony (whose last name I always thought was Montoya, I’m mixing up my movies here) and the character development. Some of the scenes in the middle when Tony came to power and married Elvira (what an irritating name) were very rushed but didn’t hinder my overall enjoyment of the film. And I think that the final death scene is probably one of my “favorite” deaths in a movie. My favorite character in the movie was definitely Manny and I loved Steven Bauer in that role. I enjoyed watching Alberto as well, because the character was such a badass. Also I’m a fan of Breaking Bad and he had an incredible recurring character on the show

My final thought on this movie is regarding the chainsaw scene. I’ve heard about how disgusting and violent it is but, well, you don’t see anything. I was under the impression that there would be body parts spilling out everywhere but you only see some blood splatter and that’s it. I know I’m a little sick and twisted but… am I missing something? Maybe I got an edited version of the film by accident.

There’s not an official ranking system on Late to the Movies (yet), so for now I’ll say I’d give it three out of five stars. I enjoyed it, I’m glad I saw it once but I probably won’t watch again unless it happens to show up on TV while I’m flipping channels.

Face palm moment: Everything I knew about Scarface, I learned from MTV Cribs and Michael Bolton. Just think about that one for a minute.

Favorite part: This song (and I knew it would be). Also, any part without Michelle Pfeiffer in it. Also, the last ten (or so) minutes of the movie that didn’t involve Lisa.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: “Is that coke in your bra or are you just happy to see me?” I think Scarface quotes are so identifiable for some reason (and it is such a quotable movie) that, well, I already knew the quotes and moments that were associated with Scarface.

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): I’d say a 7. It was definitely towards the top of my list of movies I hadn’t gotten around to seeing, and although I don’t regret it missing out on it as much as Wayne’s World (just because I loved Wayne’s World so much and I probably won’t watch this again) I’m glad I finally watched it.


  • I’ve seen Scarface, but I’ve never seen any Godfathers or the Doors. Sorry, this blog makes me see the water marks between your movie-watching and mine.

  • SCARFACE is actually pretty atypical for DePalma – his default mode is pretty much amped-up Hitchcock pastiche. SISTERS, BLOW OUT, RAISING CAIN, and (I swear to god) FEMME FATALE all play like fever-dream versions of PSYCHO and REAR WINDOW. He misses as many times as he hits, but I count him pretty easily among my favorite directors (and yeah, THE UNTOUCHABLES is pretty good too).

    • Untouchables is on my list to watch. I definitely think as a director I need to give him several more opportunities, especially if he has the similarities to Hitchcock as you mentioned. And I liked the chainsaw scene on its own, but the way it had been described to me was just…not the way I saw it. I think it just had a lot of hype as being very disgusting and gory so I was expecting guts spewing out everywhere.

      I didn’t actually know there was an earlier version. That explains the sister. Her role was just super weak to me, although as I mentioned I thoroughly enjoyed her hair.

  • A couple of other things, since I’ve had too much coffee this morning and clicked “post” too soon.

    The chainsaw scene was always off-camera, and it’s one of the movie’s few clear nods to Hitchcock (and PSYCHO’s “the violence is more disturbing off-camera” strategy).

    The sister subplot is lifted directly from the awesome 1932 version, where she plays a much bigger role (and is kinda super-hot) – the semi-incestuous nature of their relationship makes a lot more sense there. I haven’t seen DePalma’s SCARFACE in years, but I definitely remember the sister stuff feeling superfluous.

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