TV Review: ‘The Offer’

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Pictured: Miles Teller as Al Ruddy and Dan Fogler as Francis Ford Coppola of the Paramount+ original series THE OFFER. Photo Cr: Nicole Wilder/Paramount+ ©2022 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

(L to R) Miles Teller as Al Ruddy and Dan Fogler as Francis Ford Coppola of the Paramount+ original series ‘The Offer.’ Photo: Nicole Wilder/Paramount+. ©2022 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Premiering April 28th on Paramount+ is the new 10-part mini-series ‘The Offer,’ which chronicles the making of ‘The Godfather.’

The series stars Miles Teller as ‘Godfather’ producer Albert S. Ruddy, Matthew Goode as Paramount executive Robert Evans, Giovanni Ribisi as mobster Joe Colombo, and Dan Fogler as director Francis Ford Coppola.

The result is a really fun retelling of how ‘The Godfather’ was made, even if most of the facts have been replaced with legend, and serves an entertaining send-up of Hollywood filmmaking with an absolutely brilliant performance by Matthew Goode as the iconic Robert Evans.

The series begins by introducing us to Albert S. Ruddy (Teller), a computer programmer-turned TV writer who wants to produce feature films. He soon meets the head of Paramount studios, Robert Evans (Goode), who desperately needs a hit, and assigns Ruddy to produce Mario Puzo’s (Patrick Gallo) best-selling novel, “The Godfather.”

Dan Fogler as Francis Ford Coppola of the Paramount+ original series 'The Offer.'

Dan Fogler as Francis Ford Coppola of the Paramount+ original series ‘The Offer.’ Photo: Nicole Wilder/Paramount+. ©2022 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Evan’s righthand-man, Peter Bart (Josh Zukerman) recommends writer Francis Ford Coppola (Fogler) to direct the film and co-write with Puzo. But production of the movie is put in jeopardy when mob boss Joe Colombo (Ribisi) decides to stop the production because he feels the book is negative towards Italian-Americans. Along with his assistant Bettye McCartt (Juno Temple), Ruddy begins a friendship with Colombo that allows the movie to get made.

Meanwhile, Evans battles Paramount owners Charles Bluhdorn (Burn Gorman) and Barry Lapidus (Colin Hanks) to get the movie made and keep his job. As the film goes into production, Ruddy must deal with Colombo and the mob, fighting Bluhdorn and Evans to get actors Al Pacino (Anthony Ippolito) and Marlon Brando (Justin Chambers) cast, and fulfilling Coppola’s vision to make the greatest movie of all-time!

The pilot episode is directed by Dexter Fletcher, who is also a producer on the series and has a flair for telling “based on a true story” movies like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ which he unofficially directed, and ‘Rocketman.’ But the biggest problem with the series, much like HBO’s ‘Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,’ is that it offers legend as fact and mixes the two together, ultimately leaving the audience lost as to what is real and what is a dramatization.

Also blending myth and facts, actor Gianni Russo, who played Carlo in ‘The Godfather,’ has been very vocal over the years about his version of the making of the film, which again, may or may not have been true, and saw him taking on the role of mediator between the studio and the mafia.

The series contradicts that story, having Ruddy as the mediator, and also depicts Russo as physically abusive and a sexual predator on the set. Again, that may or may not be true, but if it is, the series does finally explain why actor James Caan really beat Russo up in their famous fight scene.

Another aspect of the series that may or may not ultimately work, is the way they orchestrated moments from ‘The Godfather’ to happen behind the scenes, as if to say that those “real life” moments inspired the film. This works once in a while, but the series doubles down and does it constantly. For example, on the set of the movie in the Don’s office, Ruddy sits behind the desk answering questions from the crew as if he was the Don. While fun at times, this technique eventually runs out of steam.

Giovanni Ribisi as Joe Colombo

Giovanni Ribisi as Joe Colombo of the Paramount+ original series ‘The Offer.’ Photo: Nicole Wilder/Paramount+. ©2022 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

The sub-plot between Ruddy and the mob is at times more entertaining than the story of making the movie, but I have to call into question if any of that actually happened. According to the mini-series, Ruddy and Colombo become very close, and Ruddy is even in attendance when Colombo was assassinated, which may or may not be true.

The series also implies that Lenny Montana (wonderfully played by Lou Ferrigno), the actor who portrayed Luca Brasi, actually worked for Colombo and may have been implicated in the murder of “Crazy” Joe Gallo. With so many true stories told in the series, it becomes confusing when the show takes “creative license.”

Miles Teller gives a strong performance as Albert S. Ruddy and is really the audience’s eyes throughout the series. Juno Temple is also quite strong as his assistant Bettye and transcends her limited role. Some of the supporting roles of famous actors are a bit hard to swallow, including Anthony Ippolito’s caricature-type performance as Al Pacino. But, Justin Chambers perfectly captures both Marlon Brando’s oddness and genius.

Giovanni Ribisi is surprisingly great as Joe Colombo and brings a lot of humanity to an otherwise unredeemable character. Burn Gorman also gives a spot-on performance as Gulf + Western owner Charles Bluhdorn, which is both funny and at times menacing.

Matthew Goode as Robert Evans in 'The Offer,' streaming on Paramount+, 2022. Photo: Miller Mobley/Paramount+

Matthew Goode as Robert Evans in ‘The Offer,’ streaming on Paramount+. Photo: Miller Mobley/Paramount+.

But for me, its Matthew Goode’s performance as legendary producer Robert Evans that really makes this series worth watching. For those that don’t know, Evans is one of the most iconic Hollywood producers of all-time, overseeing not just ‘The Godfather,’ but also hits like ‘Love Story,’ and ‘Chinatown.’ Evans had a very specific way of talking and moving, and Goode nails each aspect of his personality perfectly.

While a supporting character, Evans is as much the star of ‘The Offer’ as Ruddy, and the series tracks his rise, fall, and rise again at Paramount and hints at his drug addiction and failed marriage to Ali MacGraw.

In the end, fans of classic Hollywood filmmaking and specifically ‘The Godfather’ will enjoy this series, whether some of the facts are in question or not. But I do think that anyone with a passing knowledge of ‘The Godfather’ and the legendary stories from behind the scenes will have a more enjoyable viewing than those that do not know the movie’s history.

‘The Offer’ receives 4 out of 5 stars.

'The Offer' premieres April 28th on Paramount+

‘The Offer’ premieres April 28th on Paramount+

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