Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

What on earth is up with Robert De Niro?

Over the last few days, you have probably read a few appalling reviews of the latest Meet the Parents film. Take heed. You may think you have some idea how ghastly Little Fockers is. You are, perhaps, holding thoughts of …

Sun, Dec 26, 2010, 22:47

   

Over the last few days, you have probably read a few appalling reviews of the latest Meet the Parents film. Take heed. You may think you have some idea how ghastly Little Fockers is. You are, perhaps, holding thoughts of Meet the Fockers in your brain and multiplying by some modestly sized negative integer. Could Little Fockers = MTF x -5 or so? Forget it. To get some some idea of the new film’s wretchedness we need a new class of mathematical notation. A better approximation would be MTF x -G, where G is Graham’s Number.

“I’m a big poopy plop? You’re a big poopy plop!”

Anyway the point of all this facetious nonsense is to set readers pondering the extraordinary decline in Robert De Niro’s career. Consider the 1970s. In the early days, he made about one film a year and you could be fairly certain that each release would be worth watching. His current activities stand as an exact complement to that strategy. That is to say he makes a great many films and they are all really, really terrible. You probably think you know how bad the recent run has been, but a glance at Bob’s IMDb page provides really depressing intelligence.

Over the last decade we’ve had Men of Honor, 15 Minutes, City By the Sea, Hide and Seek, Godsend and Showtime. Here’s a question. When was the last time Bob had a starring role in a film you’d cross the road to see? The original Meet the Parents in 2000 was okay, but that’s a one-note comic turn. His role in Jackie Brown is tiny. Cop Land from 1997 was tolerable. A serious case could be made that, despite his promiscuity, De Niro’s last substantial performance in a film of quality was in the peerless Heat. And that’s 15 years ago, for Pete’s sake!

What do we think is going in that brain? Does he genuinely not know how terrible these films are? Is it a purely cynical strategy to keep himself in ivory backscratchers? To be honest, I would prefer it if ┬áthe second supposition were the case. That’s to say I’d rather Bob turned out to be cynical than deluded.