Saturday, June 30, 2007

No wonder chavs and the hip-hop community look up to Tony Montana. He has no style, no class and is a deluded, loudmouth knob. What a perfect role model for individuals who think that bad clothes, bad music and an early death are all wonderful things to aspire to.

I don't think anyone can watch Scarface and objectively call it a great film. It's a loud, garish coked-up mess that takes three hours to show an ambitious Cuban immigrant get rich and then screw up and die (drugs are bad, mmkay?). That's all there is to the film. Tony Montana isn't Michael Corleone. He isn't a multi-faceted character. He's a cardboard cut out, albeit an enjoyable one. Now I'm sure chavs probably see Scarface as an emotional Shakespearian-style tragedy, but for me it's more of a comedy.

Just take the near incestuous relationship between Tony and his sister. It's hilarious. When they first meet it's more like a reunion between lovers than a brother and a sister being reacquainted. They give each other lingering glances, they hug and horribly saccharine music plays in the background. Then, as the film progresses, Tony gets jealous whenever his grown-up sister gets any attention from other men. These moments are even funnier. The camera tightens on Tony's face, and out of his mind with rage, loud, piercing sirens of synthesised music play on the soundtrack to communicate his displeasure. He only has eyes for his afro-permed sister and woe betide any man who comes between him and that unsullied ass. Which leads me to the scene where he finds out that his best friend has been sleeping with his kin. He scrunches his face like he's messed himself and then he blows his friend away. Afterwards sad music, denoting the tragedy of the scene, floods the speakers, but I couldn't stop laughing. Nor could I when afro-perm tries to kill Tony and she gets blown away, and when Tony tearful tries talking to her dead corpse. I imagine if you're high on coke this might be tragic, but to anyone not under the influence of hard drugs it's bloody funny.

Less amusing, and actually rather boring, is Tony's relationship with his wife (played by Michelle Pfeiffer). Has there ever been a duller screen romance? Or has there ever been a character so overwhelmingly dreary? I don't think so. Now I know that that's kind of the point. Pfeiffer is supposed to be playing an indolent junkie. But if anything she's too good at it. I nearly fell asleep every time she was on the screen. In fact, in one scene, she even said, "I'm bored." You're not the only one, love. No wonder Tony fancies his sister.

Thankfully, though, there's the music to pick you up when the story is getting bogged down. Is it the worst score in film history? In parts: yes. But is it funny? Gut-achingly so. Now I have to say that the main title music and the main theme are pretty good – love that whip effect! But the songs; dear Lord! To think that De Palma actually had this dross commissioned – he didn't just pick bad songs; he had them made. The worst one has to be something called 'Dance Dance Dance'. It plays during the club scene where the clown gets mowed down by two hit men who are trying to kill Tony – they're worse shots than the A-Team. It's a travesty. But at least it, and the other terrible songs, make the club scenes so amusingly trashy – the bad clothes, perms and porn moustaches that the extras wear also help.

But the best/worst use of music has to be in the 'Push it to the Limit' montage. It's a classic. Juxtaposed against this hilarious piece of 80s pop rock ('Walk along the razor's edge, don't look down, just keep your head, or you'll be finished') you have laughing drug dealers, Tony checking out his own sister as she tries on clothes for him, footage of Tony's tasteless new residence (it's like MTV's Cribs) and assorted moments from his wedding – the best being a tiger tied to a tree and the lingering glances between Tony's sister and Tony's best mate (by the way, in these moments, it looks like Tony's sister has streaks of dried snot hanging from her hair).

However, this montage follows one of the movie's legitimately good scenes – the one where Tony has Frank killed and seizes power. It's brutal, it's calculating and it's very enjoyable. And I've always loved the moment where Tony sees the blimp with the message 'The World is Yours' streaking across it. It's pure cinema, and the music (for once) perfectly fits the visuals – it's also fitting that a man like Tony Montana would get his motto from a commercial. The chainsaw scene is also great. De Palma knows how do set-pieces. And of course the final shoot-out is magnificent fun – it almost banishes the bad scenes from my memory. But although there are good bits, there's too much dross in-between for me to take the film seriously. It's certainly nowhere near as good as Carlito's Way. Plus it annoys me that people idolise Tony Montana. Why? He's an idiot. And he's not even that ruthless. There's one scene where he refuses to detonate a bomb because it will kill a couple of children. What sort of villain is he? But of course, one of the reasons for this, is that he wants a kid but can't have one with Michelle Pfeiffer. So all the hard man wants is a baby? That's not very hip-hop. Nor is the way that being rich makes him miserable. So although Tony Montana might have a big pile of cocaine on his desk, and while he may have a big gun, he's really just a loudmouth, self-pitying, coked-up loser that wants to sex with his sister. Yep, he's a man to admire.

You Might Also Like


  1. I just saw this for the first time, and I agree. Was expecting a lot more from this movie considering all the hype.

    Especially how he handled the situation after screwing up his deal to kill that reporter. Arrogant, prideful and most of all stupid.