Goodfellas is a movie that was on my radar for a while, I just never got around to watching it. However, when a friend sent the movie my way, it finally hit me that I really did need to get around to it. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best at prioritizing watching movies over consuming other content, but I know a good one when I see it. Goodfellas is one of the best mob movies out there, and it stands up extremely well.
Goodfellas brings together a killer cast and a bit of a different look at the mob life. Sometimes when you watch a mob flick, it’s something you’re looking at as an outsider. What Goodfellas does so well is it starts out with a young kid and lets you in on how he got his start with the mob. He wasn’t in one of the families; he was just some kid who knew how to hustle. That character is Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), who quickly earns his keep and in the present day, is one of the top players.
The performances from Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Lorraine Bracco are all fantastic as well. While they’ve been in quite a few things since the movie, their performances in this still stand up as some of their best work. For me, Lorraine Bracco is more familiar as Angela Rizzoli from Rizzoli & Isles, which is no longer on air. The second I heard her voice as Karen in Goodfellas, I had a feeling she’d be great in it. Due to the film covering a time period from the mid-50s through the 80s, women aren’t treated nearly as well as they should be. Karen is largely expected to just do whatever Henry asks, stay at home to take care of the kids, and on top of that, she’s lied to and cheated on. However, she makes the most of the part and there’s still a sense of independence about her.
Henry Hill, James Conway (De Niro), and Tommy DeVito (Pesci) have a dynamic of their own in the film. They all work together, but Tommy is a bit of a loose cannon. Paul Cicero (Paul Servino) plays the head honcho for the mob and he doesn’t have quite the same dynamic with the others since he’s not around as much as them. But that said, he’s still a joy to watch. Henry and James feel like they’re the most similar minded and it makes for a great chemistry between the two throughout the film. Things might not always go as planned, but those two tend to think ahead more than most would.
Goodfellas also reminded me of how I felt when I watched Heat for the first time last year. I loved both for different reasons. Goodfellas doesn’t have quite the same intensity of action as Heat does, but there’s a bit of a showdown with the main characters in both by the end. The fewer visual effects and stunts give the movie an advantage that not many others get. Heat is about bank robbers and not the mob, but it’s still based around crime. Plus, De Niro delivers great performances in both, which just made me think after each movie, “Wow that was dumb of me to not watch this sooner.” I watched Goodfellas twenty-seven years after its release, and it truly did not feel like a movie that is that old.
As someone who isn’t big on rewatching movies because there’s just so much out there to watch, I wouldn’t actually mind rewatching this because it’s just that good. The stellar cast and writing make it worth not watching something else in favor of it. Maybe next time it won’t take me so long to watch a great film.