Single Person’s Movie: The Devil’s Advocate

It’s 2 AM and you awake with a jerk, alone in your fully-lit apartment and still on the couch. On TV, the credits of some movie you’ve already seen a billion times are scrolling by. It feels like rock bottom. And we know, because we’re just like you: single.

Need a movie to keep you company until you literally can’t keep your eyes open? Join us tonight when we pass out to The Devil’s Advocate [starting @ 10:50 p.m. on Encore]

Why we’ll try to stay up and watch it: Winning an Academy Award is a tricky thing. If an actor gets it too early in their career, chances are they’ll never live up to it again. But if they get it too late–for the wrong performance–it winds up validating all their negative habits. So when Al Pacino finally won his Oscar for Scent of a Woman, it wasn’t as a make-up for all the times that he deserved the trophy but lost; it was the warm embrace by Hollywood for the over-the-top ham he had become since Scarface. It was a statement: “Sure we liked your subtle Strasbergian work in the 70s, but we really love your screaming in the 90s!” And so that brings us to The Devil’s Advocate, a movie that must have been pitched with four simple words: Al Pacino is Satan.

The Devil’s Advocate is a Frankenstein monster of a film, combining elements of The Firm, Rosemary’s Baby and, the aforementioned Scarface, into an overstuffed 2-hour-and-20-minute package–we have to wonder if director Taylor Hackford yelled, “it’s alive!” when the editing process was finally completed. Everything about the film is so unbelievably gratuitous and grotesquely overboard that it wouldn’t surprise us to learn there was a deleted scene featuring Mr. Pacino and a group of pigs literally wallowing in their own filth. And yet! The Devil’s Advocate is hilariously fun, just so long as you don’t take anything about it seriously. This is easily the closest movie Mr. Pacino has ever made that resembles a straight-up comedy. To wit: A young hotshot defense attorney from the south (Keanu Reeves with a southern accent; need we say more) gets called to New York at the behest of big time lawyer named John Milton (get it?), a mysterious man who ends up being… Lucifer. If you aren’t laughing yet, wait until you see the final act.

When we’ll probably fall asleep: The third act of The Devil’s Advocate is, for lack of a better word, bananas. Here is just some of what you can expect: Mr. Pacino lip-syncing to the Frank Sinatra song “It Happened in Monterey”; Connie Nielsen’s breasts; more drive-by incest than an episode of Gossip Girl; and a nearly 14-minute monologue that ranges from the absurd to the truly absurd. It’s like the script is just a pure stream of consciousness. Pacino-as-Satan utters howlers like, “I’m a fan of man”, “We’re gonna come out, guns blazin'” and “I’m peaking; it’s my time now” with such passion and fire that you can’t help but be wildly entertained. So we’ll stay up until 12:50 a.m., two hours into the film, to see Mr. Pacino do his song and dance routine. The sad part is that he’s better in the last twenty minutes of The Devil’s Advocate than he was in all two hours of Scent of a Woman. One performance got him an Oscar… the other got him derision. The Academy Awards giveth and the Academy Awards taketh away.

Single Person’s Movie: The Devil’s Advocate