El Padrino (2004) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

El Padrino ("The Godfather" in Spanish) is an attempt to tell the basic Godfather storyline  - small time hood becomes king of the mobs - in a Mexican-American context. IMDb has a complete plot summary, if you really care.

I guess this film must have had some theatrical aspirations, because it stars a lot of people who used to be somebody, like Faye Dunaway, Gary Busey, Stacy Keach, Robert Wagner, and Joanna Pacula. It also stars some familiar character actors like Chucky's Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly. (Are those two a team now?) Whatever distribution plans the producers may have had for this movie seem to have evaporated, and it ended up being released on DVD exclusively in Belgium last year. Why Belgium? Well, it is a little known fact that the Belgians, having no colorful gangsters of their own, have adopted Mexican gangsters in a cultural exchange program. Mexico, in turn, has received many desperately-needed boatloads of light and flaky waffles.

The film was written by, directed by, and stars actor-turned-auteur Damian Chapa. I have no idea what qualified Damian for this particular task. I know that his family is Mexican, but he is a native of Dayton, Ohio and was once married to the ultimate white bread woman, uber-Canadian Natasha Henstridge, so I have to figure they probably weren't living in East L.A. It seems to me that his background qualifies him to chronicle life in the L.A. barrios approximately as well as my Polish last name qualifies me to write about the Warsaw Ghetto. To tell you the truth, I don't know whether El Padrino is authentic or not, but I doubt it. The Stacy Keach character seems to be a refugee from a Harold Robbins novel, and Ms. Tilly seems to be somewhat out of her depth. She sounds silly when she speaks Spanish, and even sillier when she speaks English with a Latin American accent. But I guess I could be wrong about that being inauthentic, because now that I think about it, she also sounds silly when she speaks ... er ... normally. In the last analysis, the authenticity doesn't really matter because the real problem with the movie is that it doesn't really seem to have much heart or originality to it. It's just going through the motions of the usual macho chest-thumping, over-the-top violence and other crazy drugged-out behavior.

The IMDB score is only 4.9, but even that mediocre result has been produced by extensive ballot stuffing. In the comments section, there are numerous scores of 10/10 supported by comments that elevate the film about to the level of Casablanca. I checked out the authors of these ecstatic reviews and found that all but one of them created an account just to review this film. The only multiple film reviewer who liked the film was a woman who only reviews Damien Chapa movies, and she reviewed this one more than once! Except for the woman obsessed with Chapa, there were three multiple film reviewers who took the time to write about El Padrino, and they scored it 1/10, 2/10, and 2/10. Two out of ten is certainly lower than I would score it, but at least those ballots are indicative of how the genuine voters react to the film.



  • Widescreen, anamorphically enhanced



Jennifer Tilly wears a thong covered only by a diaphanous skirt. For all intents and purposes, her complete bum is exposed.

Ileanna Simancas exposes her left breast from the side rear. A nipple is barely visible.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No reviews on file

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C-, barely watchable, to be generous.

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