Picks and Pans Review: The Great Santini
Robert Duvall was appropriately crazed as the bloodthirsty officer in Apocalypse Now. Here he turns up as a gung-ho Marine fighter pilot approaching middle age. Returning home from a typically rowdy overseas assignment, he discovers his family has grown up—and turned rebellious. Duvall's conflict with his unmacho 18-year-old son, a high schooler who doesn't want to follow in the old man's footsteps, is the focus. Though there is some ugly violence, their confrontations are always gripping and sometimes oddly delightful. Michael O'Keefe is the son, and he's marvelous; Blythe Danner plays Duvall's long-suffering wife, and Lisa Jane Persky steals a scene or two as an ugly-duckling daughter with a smart mouth. Writer-director Lewis John Carlino, whose only other directing credit is The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, is guilty of a few lapses in an otherwise fine film: The subplot involving a racial murder is awkward. But whatever the movie's shortcomings (including a misleading title), they are more than made up for by a white-hot performance from Duvall, himself a military brat whose rear-admiral father always wanted him to go to Annapolis. (PG)
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