This file was generated 2002-06-09 04:23 GMT. This movie's information hasn't changed since 2001-02-05.
Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> January 2001 >> Midnight Run
Robert De Niro is a very watchable actor. He always gets inside his characters, and it's fun to see where he's taking them. De Niro has a twenty- minute head start on Charles Grodin in Midnight Run, so I was already tuned in to De Niro. A few minutes after Grodin's introduction, I realized that he was doing less when he was talking and more when De Niro was. Grodin is a master of comic underacting, so even when he's the funny one, you might be distracted by De Niro. You almost need to watch Midnight Run twice, once to watch De Niro doing business as usual, and once again to focus on Grodin. I read that Robin Williams was interested in Grodin's part and the studio was interested in giving it to him. He didn't get it, and that's a good thing.
Midnight Run is a basic road movie/buddy movie with a few twists on how these guys got together and the type of people they are. Writer George Gallo goes out of his way to make these guys good, even though we're originally misdirected into thinking neither of them is all that great. A story like this, though, doesn't depend on plot originality. It hinges on the casting and the direction. De Niro, Grodin, and Martin Brest have made watching these two cross the country while they develop their friendship is a pleasure. The story also has complications with the FBI, the mob, and De Niro's boss, which would drag down lesser movies. Fortunately for us, all are played by great character actors in Midnight Run. Dennis Farina, so good in Out of Sight and Get Shorty, plays the angry mob boss. The indispensable Joe Pantoliano, of favorites The Matrix and Bound, plays the increasingly aggravated boss. Yaphet Kotto, one of the accomplices in the original Thomas Crown Affair, is the FBI agent trying to keep his cool as De Niro and Grodin repeatedly appropriate his identity.
I think Midnight Run's DVD is the most minimal, commercially available disc I've ever seen. The movie is presented in widescreen with no subtitles and only two-channel audio. The lack of audio selection doesn't bother me, but I'm always annoyed at discs that don't provide same-language subtitles. The only menus are the scene selector menus. With only sixteen chapters across four screens, you'd think they'd make them perfect, but such is not the case. On each screen, the scenes are arrayed horizontally with a lower row for buttons to move to the next and previous screens and to start the movie. Unfortunately, the first screen only has the button for the next screen in that bottom row, and it can't be reached by moving down. Thus, it takes five interactions to get to the second screen from the first, but only two interactions to get from any other screen to either of its neighbors.