WHERE TO WATCH:
WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
Al Ruddy's experience of making the 1972 film The Godfather with Francis Ford Coppola.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Sometimes the making of a film can be just as compelling as the film itself. We are watching this in real-time as the drama behind the scenes of Olivia Wilde's film, Don't Worry Darling unfolds. The Offer tries to dramatise the events that lead to the creation of arguably one of the best films of all time, The Godfather. However, this series seems to fall short of the greatness of the original film.
The Offer tells the story of Albert S. Ruddy (Miles Teller), who goes from working as a computer programmer to creating one of the most successful sitcoms of all time, Hogan Heroes, to eventually charming his way to becoming a Paramount movie producer. It depicts how he works to get The Godfather made – from dealing with the real-life mafia to working with creatives such as the author/screenwriter Mario Puzo (Patrick Gallo) and screenwriter/director Francis Ford Coppola (Dan Folger), as well as the suits at Paramount and their parent company Gulf and Western. It's a lot to deal with; the series shows that Ruddy and his secretary Bettye McCartt (Juno Temple) almost had an uphill battle to contend with to give us one of the best pieces of cinema.
The real Albert S. Ruddy was a producer on the series, and while the character of Ruddy is a good bridge into many of the issues that faced the production of The Godfather, one kind of feels as if the writers knew that the real Ruddy was watching them create it. It is great to have a first-hand account of the subject of the series but not so great when it seems they made the character into a perfect problem solver. Not only does Ruddy get all the perfect pieces of The Godfather together, but he also helps to save the head of Paramount, Robert Evans' (Matthew Goode) job. Plus, he almost stops a mob assassination attempt; he is a patron of feminism for his secretary; he's like Superman. The only attempt to give the character any sort of flaw is with regard to his relationship with his first wife, Francoise Glazer (Nora Arnezeder) and how he puts his job before her. But even that is treated like she was unreasonable. Perhaps the real Ruddy was the godfather of this production, but it would have made for better viewing to make the character more complex, with more flaws, not just a fixer tirelessly putting out fire after fire.
One of the things that made The Godfather iconic was that it told a story about the mafia from an angle that made them seem like more than just gangsters. It was a story of family, of heart, of power. But the way The Offer portrays the mafia seems to go back to the stereotype, as cardboard cut-out bad guys. The scenes of the mafia brokering deals and planning hits seem highly stylised and just not realistic; they seem to be remnants of some other gangster show. Giovanni Ribisi, especially as Joe Columbo, the head of the Columbo family, seems more like a caricature than a real character. Also, knowing that Ruddy was not privy to these conversations makes it seem like it exists in a completely different show to the rest of the series.
I did enjoy how the series depicted the behind-the-scenes drama of The Godfather. I think we often take how much work goes into creating a project like that for granted. Watching the casting processes of iconic actors such as Al Pacino (an uncanny performance by Anthony Ippolito) and Marlon Brando (Justin Chambers) was interesting. Also, seeing how they deal with props, lighting, sound, and all aspects of cinema was compelling. But I also realise that it can depend on the viewer's personal taste; if this type of 'inside baseball' is not interesting for you, this will be another thumbs-down point of the series.
The show knows that its audience will likely be fans of The Godfather, and therefore there are lots of hints and nods for IMDb fanatics who devour content about the series of films. But sometimes, it can feel a little bit on the nose and distracting, and you feel as if the filmmakers are highly aware of what they are doing. The dialogue also feels like the series wanted to get ahead of any 2022 criticisms. The scenes with Bettye seem to scream 'Girl Boss Feminism', and even though the entire production seems to be a boys club situation, they try and shift in sometimes unnecessary Bettye scenes to make it seem a little less so.
Although most of the cast gives adequate performances, Miles Teller does a good job of playing the bridge and still demands our attention as the lead character. But he does nothing more than that, and nothing feels inspired or special about the performance. However, the one cast member who seemed to go above and beyond was Matthew Goode as Paramount's Head of Production. His depiction of the larger-than-life character could have easily been read as gaudy or showy, but he does it so well that the character seems realistic even through his showmanship. You understand that it is all an act.
Despite all my criticisms about The Offer, I still found it extremely entertaining and compelling. The series did feel too long, and some of the episodes and scenes felt disjointed, but I was so wrapped up in the story they were telling. I think there could have been a better-crafted story about the making of The Godfather, but for what it is, The Offer does an adequate job of furthering the mythology and mysteries of the film.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:
The Offer is available to stream on Showmax.