Film Review: Goodfellas (1990)

**Note: This film contains coarse language and is permeated with intense violence.**–For a change…

First of all, this won’t be like my previous posts in my review of the list, where I write as I watch, as I’d watched Goodfellas before, just on TV, so I took notes as I watched to remind myself of some impressions. Let’s be honest here, they must have played about 45 minutes of this movie–I don’t know how you could possibly show more than that on network television.

The opening scene is Joe Pesci, Ray Liotta, and Robert De Niro knifing and shooting a guy in the trunk of the car. We’re certainly opening up with a bang. Dang…

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster…they offer protection for people who can’t go to the cops.

Essentially, after that bloody opening scene, we start from the beginning of Henry Hill’s (played by Ray Liotta) participation in mob activity. He begins to idealize the power and respect (fear) that comes from being a strongman for a mafia family. We watch him quickly rise through the ranks of the mob, growing increasingly successful and powerful. We see him get married, go to jail, kill people, watch Joe Pesci kill people, then watch him kill more people.

Unfortunately, Ray Liotta’s laugh just annoys me–it’s got to be the worst laugh in the world.

…and he laughs a lot in this movie.

You really can’t avoid the comparison to other gangster movies like The Godfather Trilogy or Scarface, but this is a rougher, harder movie than The Godfather. It’s essentially a biopic, and it reminds me a lot of Blow, starring Johnny Depp just because of the way it ends and how Henry digresses from being a respectable gangster into a not-so-glorified drug dealer.

I suppose I could look at this as a warning, a deterrent film, but I was blown away (pun intended) and rather put off by the excessively gratuitous violence. I guess you could also say that it’s an realistic portrayal of the mob life, so they included the violence as a matter of course (not to mention the 300+ f-bombs…).

I don’t know exactly how this is a modern classic, as this isn’t groundbreaking, but just one more in a line of exceedingly violent and foul gangster movies. I really enjoyed The Godfather, because I think the cinematography, the acting, and quite a lot else was excellent–and it was groundbreaking.

Verdict: I think this is well made, well acted, and a lot else, but it’s not exactly the greatest thing ever made.

Maybe I don’t appreciate it like I should, but I could die without having seen this movie.

Favorite Quotes:

I didn’t want to get blood on your floor

–said by Tommy (Joe Pesci) after beating a man to death

**Note: This film contains coarse language and is permeated with intense violence.**


2 thoughts on “Film Review: Goodfellas (1990)

  1. I completely agree.

    I have never understood the appeal of the “mobster” life at all although clearly Scorese is quite taken by it. This was based on a book, which I’m not entirely sure legitimizes it but perhaps grounds it a bit more.

    Godfather was an exceptionally well done movie that I do believe deserves a place on the list.

    I can’t say the same for “Goodfellas” which certainly had cultural impact but despite what a lot of people think is not the greatest film of all time. I don’t know, perhaps it satiates the bloodlust that other men that aren’t me seem to have.


  2. I still can’t figure out why it’s had the cultural impact it has. We even have the Goodfeathers on Animaniacs…

    Gangster movies have certainly been popular, but maybe I deluded myself into thinking that some of it had to do with great acting and scripts. Perhaps it really was all about Hollywood stars killing people.

    Oh, and I think Ray Liotta has creepy eyes.

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