Rated: R For violence and language. Reviewed by: Frank and Chris Release date: December 25, 1992 Released by: Twentieth Century Fox
Jack Nicholson so thoroughly absorbs the personality and demeanor, and with the aid of great make-up, the look of James R. Hoffa, he's almost totally unrecognizable.
The film flows easily from the early beginnings of Hoffa's rise trying to enlist men to join the Teamsters, to a possible scenario 40 years later depicting Hoffa's death.
By his side every step of the way is fictional character Bobby (Danny DeVito), who starts out as a truck driver and becomes Hoffa's bodyguard and loyal friend.
Hoffa's steady rise in power shows him always in there fighting for the working man, whether it's in the front lines of a strike having his head beaten in, or negotiating in board rooms. Very little of Hoffa's personal life is shown. A blonde wife is in a few scenes, and there is mention of a son.
Writer David Mamet (Homicide) doesn't paint a pretty picture of Hoffa. He's a violent, bullhead man who gets involved with the Mafia, but every action is driven by his belief that the working man should get a fair share.
Directed by DeVito, who although in every scene, graciously puts himself in the background. It's Nicholson's movie all the way. He's a sure bet for a Best Actor nomination. He swaggers his substantial body into the union halls, to back room-deals and into confrontations with Attorney General Bobby Kennedy. His presence is felt even when he's offscreen.
The film has a terrific look. The clothes, cars and smoke-filled halls give a nostalgic feel to each scene.
Hoffa is one terrifically acted, immensely entertaining movie, one of the year's best.