Picks and Pans Review: The Godfather Part Iii

updated 01/14/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/14/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Sofia Coppola

Not everybody thought the first sequel was such a swell idea either, but to anyone who admired the original, Godfather Part III can only seem like beating a dead horse head.

It picks up the saga of yuppie manqué-Mafia Don Michael Corleone—Pacino, looking aged and as glum as he would if he had spent the last six months rereading reviews of Revolution. Garcia is his illegitimate nephew, who longs for the days of knocking off rivals and stealing money rather than laundering it. Coppola, whose dad is the film's director, Francis, plays Pacino's daughter and Garcia's love interest.

Also on hand are Diane Keaton as Pacino's ex-wife, Don Novello as a Mafia PR man, Bridget Fonda as a photojournalist, Talia Shire as Pacino's sister, Eli Wallach as a weaselly mobster, Joe Mantegna as a rival gangster and George Hamilton as Pacino's lawyer, who just sits there as if he has both indigestion and a nice tan.

References to events in the first two Godfathers add to the confusion. Garcia, for example, is the son of James Caan, killed in Part I. That Pacino had his brother (John Cazale) murdered in Part II is a big part of this plot, but his motivation isn't explained.

Loose ends dangle all over and have lots of gaping holes to dangle into. Fonda dominates a couple of early scenes as a woman obviously on a hustle, then disappears, with no hint of what happened to her.

There's dumb violence aplenty. One man is killed by a hit man who grabs the victim's glasses and stabs him in the neck with that nib at the end of the earpiece—a weapon that ranks up there with creamed corn in the effective blunt instrument department. Another character is poisoned by a box of cannoli he accepts from Shire, a sworn enemy.

Writer Mario Puzo tries futilely to create distraction by involving Pacino in the death of Pope John Paul I and making Pacino's son, Franc D'Ambrosio, an opera singer whose voice is on the sound track but who lip-syncs so badly it makes you nostalgic for Milli Vanilli.

Pacino, while his speech patterns evoke his Big Boy Caprice in Dick Tracy, holds up well, considering Puzo gives him such lines as "Every family has bad memories." Garcia efficiently handles his one-dimensional role. And Wallach is brusquely sinister.

Sofia Coppola, however, is almost totally lacking in charisma, not to mention acting ability. Even such simple lines as "Is it actually happening again?" are delivered in robotic fashion.

Still, this movie would have gone into the tank if Jessica Lange were Coppola's daughter. In its lack of cohesion and control, Part III is reminiscent of Captain Queeg's pathetic attempts to relive past glory in The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. (R)

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