Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Frankie and Johnny

Frankie and Johnny
Starring:
Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hector Elizondo, Kate Nelligan and Jane Morris


Rated: R For adult language and content.
Reviewed by: Frank and Chris  
Release date: October 11, 1991

The Apollo Cafe is a busy New York luncheonette where a mixed bag of lonely people assemble. Johnny (Al Pacino), an ex-con, works there as a short-order cook and Frankie (Michelle Pfeiffer) works as a waitress. They are attracted to each other, but Frankie doesn't want a relationship. After going together to a coworker's going away party, she spurns all of his advances.

Johnny wants to turn his life around. He reads Shakespeare and tries to learn a new word every day while shaving. He wants marriage and children. Frankie, on the other hand, hasn't had a date in three years. She buys a VCR so she can watch a rented movie and eat pizza by herself. She's been hurt by men in her past and is afraid of involvement.

Director Garry Marshall uses one of Hitchcock's techniques from Rear Window by peering into tenement windows of other lonely people. He intrudes into the homes of an abusive husband, a fellow waitress who eats alone while talking to her pet turtles and into the home of Nick (Hector Elizondo), the owner of the cafe.

Kate Nelligan is terrific as Cora, a racy waitress who's looking for Mr. Right to come along, but isn't above having a one-night stand while she waits.

Pacino is a charming Johnny. He's a regular guy who wants to bet on with his life. He's tender, funny, attentive and relentless in his pursuit of Frankie. Pfeiffer, trying to look unattractive, with disheveled hair, this side of greasy, still looks beautiful. She's very vulnerable and very good.

Together, this ensemble of misfits makes for an endearing, romantic cure foe loneliness.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Frankie and Johnny  B+   B+                     B+ 

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