Netflix Graveyard: Dick Tracy


Welcome to my Netflix Graveyard where I talk about movies that have been stuck on my Netflix movie queue since I got a subscription in 2006. Dick Tracy was on my queue even longer than 2006. Probably like 1999 when  Netflix didn’t have queues and was just a fancy DVD trading site. It is what we in the business call a linger. Not offensive enough to take it off, but not eye-catching enough that you want to watch it right here, right now. So it crawled up my queue, constantly being knocked down a couple of notches each time I got a jones for another, flashier movie. And honestly, I think the movie should have stayed there. I had no business actually watching this annoying movie.

Dick Tracy is based around a comic strip popular in the thirties and forties. The titular character is a square-jawed detective who solves crimes committed by oddly shaped villains. Big Boy Caprice is his nemesis in this adventure that feature smaller villains from the comic books as well. Dick Tracy races to uncover Big Boy Caprice’s plot to take over the town but is complicated along the way by a Kid, a vixen (Breathless Mahoney) and his girlfriend Tess Trueheart.

The nineties were a bad time for comic book adaptations. We saw several atrocious ones that couldn’t grasp the real essence of the character they were trying to depict. The most famous example of this are the Batman movies made with George Clooney’s nipples. The people behind Batman and Robin didn’t truly understand the source material and why Batman is such an iconic character that means a lot to a lot of people. I don’t think this is quite the case for Dick Tracy. I think their source material was already lacking the dynamic aspects that lends well to filmic adaptations. Tracy is a two-dimensional character with two-dimensional worries that should have stayed within the walls of those three panel comic strips. He is a sieve in which more interesting things travel through. He cannot give us a reason to care about him for a whole movie.

The other issue I had with the film is the choice of casting Madonna as Breathless Mahoney. She is easily one of the worst actresses ever. She is terrible in this movie. Her delivery is flat, her face is emotionless, and she oozes boredom more than sex. I couldn’t care less about Dick Tracy being attracted to Breathless Mahoney despite having a loyal girlfriend at home. If he chose to go down that path he was doomed from the start. To contrast Madonna’s proverbial lying there, there was Al Pacino as Big Boy Caprice. He is the hammiest I have seen him ever here. He is even hammier than in his “whoo-ha” movie. This hammy acting would have been perfect if he wasn’t put against Breathless Mahoney and Dick Tracy. Breathless Mahoney stands next to him, struggling to keep awake and Dick Tracy just utters unimaginative forties slang.  This creates a disconnect in the scenes and you feel like you are glimpsing at two very different movies getting mushed together. It is quite painful to watch.

Skip this movie, for the sake of your soul.


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