Pros:Entertaining movie with good cast.
Cons:No extras on DVD. Could be more mystery.
The Bottom Line: Dick Tracy is an entertaining movie that is still worth watching, though it may be too different for some viewers.
I can sort of remember when Dick Tracy came out in 1990, though I'm not sure when I first saw the movie. When I found the DVD cheap, I decided to pick it up.
Recommend this product?
A group of mobsters are gunned down by Flattop and Itchy, men who work for Big Boy Caprice in an attempt to take over crime in the city. The shooting is witnessed by The Kid, an orphan boy who is a thief. Detective Dick Tracy investigates the deaths and he also rescues The Kid from his ruthless guardian. Tracy ends up watching over The Kid with the help of his girlfriend, Tess Truehart.
Big Boy forces Lips Manlis to sign over Club Ritz before killing him too. Breathless Mahoney is the singer for the club and Big Boy makes her his new girlfriend and declares that everyone who worked for Lips now works for him. Tracy tries to arrest Big Boy for the murder of Lips, but there isn't enough evidence and Breathless won't testify. Big Boy launches his plan to get rid of Tracy by having all the mobsters work together under his leadership. The investigation gets more complicated and Tracy also has to deal with Breathless attempting to seduce him, which causes strain on his relationship with Tess.
Dick Tracy is based on the comic strip created by Chester Gould in 1931. The character has also been in a radio series, movie serials, a few movies, a live action television series, a few cartoons, books and comic books. There have been plans for a sequel movie as well as a new television series featuring the character, but the rights to the character are tied up in a legal battle involving Warren Beatty and Tribune Media Services. I don't remember seeing any of the cartoons or movie serials and I've never read any of the books, comic books, or the comic strip. I think the plot is original for the movie, though I could be wrong about that.
Bright, vibrant primary colors are used for just about everything throughout Dick Tracy. The use of those colors does give the movie a unique look. I do think the look of things and the color choices make it look more like a comic strip or comic book come to life. I like this take on the material instead of trying to make things more realistic looking. The way colors are used may turn some viewers off. Most of the characters wear bright, vibrantly colored outfits. The cars and all the locations also have the same bright colors. There are a few shots that show a lot of the city. In those shots, the images really look like illustrations from a comic book or comic strip, adding to the unique look of the movie. I really like the visuals in the movie and think they look wonderful.
The unique look in Dick Tracy carries into the look of several of the characters. The mobsters have some sort of distinguishing feature that ties into their name. Mumbles talks in mumbles that sound like nonsense, though somehow Tracy can understand him. Flattop has a flat head and Lips has large lips. Those characters have interesting looks and the makeup for them is done amazingly well. It is clear that the features on those characters is created with makeup, though the makeup works perfectly for the characters.
The plot for Dick Tracy is interesting and not overly complicated even though a lot is going on. The movie starts off showing the mobsters being killed and Tracy starting the investigation. The men doing the killing are shown. It doesn't take long for it be clear that Big Boy is behind the deaths or what his ultimate plan is either. That aspect of the plot doesn't add any mystery to what is going on. A little mystery is added when a mysterious new criminal shows up in town and gets involved in things. Much of what happens is predictable, though there are a few surprises as well. The first time I saw the movie, I was very surprised by something that comes out late in the movie.
There is a lot of shooting throughout Dick Tracy. The shooting usually involves machine guns that spray bullets all over the place. Characters are killed, but it isn't done in a graphic way. At one point, Tracy is being shot at by several armed men with machine guns, and he isn't even close to being hit while managing to wipe out all the bad guys. The action isn't that realistic, though it works for the movie with the way everything is presented. I don't think there is that much action overall to what is going on. The violence is more mild, so it shouldn't bother people. The movie is rated PG, but parents may still want to check out the movie before letting children watch it.
Tracy and Tess are dating when the movie begins. It seems like they have been dating a while, though it isn't said for sure. They are comfortable with each other, but not that affectionate. The relationship really doesn't add any romance to what is going on. Breathless acts like she is comfortable using sex to get what she wants from men. I think she is involved with Lips before his death, and Big Boy moves right into that position, though they aren't shown being intimate or even kissing. It is just sort of hinted at by the fact that she is almost always around and by what he says. Breathless is very flirty with Tracy when they first meet and it is clear that she wants more from him. She is definitely out to seduce him in a few scenes. Several of her lines are sexually suggestive. In one scene, she is wearing a sheer shirt with nothing under it and her nipples are visible. That is it for nudity in the movie.
Dick Tracy is a detective who is determined to deal with all the criminals and corruption in town. He has definite ideas about how he wants to deal with things, and he does sometimes make questionable choices. Everyone, even Tess, only calls him Tracy. Warren Beatty does really well with the part. Tess is around frequently, but she really isn't developed much. She does get upset by things tied to Tracy's work, though she is mostly understanding. Glenne Headly does fine with the part.
Chief Brandon is the chief of police and he is supportive of Tracy. The Chief is around in many scenes without being that developed. Charles Durning handles the part fine. Some other cops are around in several scenes, though none of them really stand out much. Sam Catchem and Pat Patton are around the most. Dick Van Dyke is in a few short scenes as the district attorney. The Kid is the young orphan that Tracy takes in. The Kid sort of becomes a side kick to Tracy, and he is frequently tagging along even when he is supposed to stay behind. Charlie Korsmo does well with the part and isn't annoying.
Big Boy is the main villain of the movie. He has a plan to take over the city and get rid of Tracy. Big Boy has a temper and thinks nothing of using violence in various situations. Al Pacino does really well with the character. He is a bit over the top at times, but that is what the character needs. Breathless Mahoney is a seductive singer who sets her sights on Tracy after they meet even though she is mixed up with Big Boy. Madonna actually does a decent job with the part. She does perform several songs during the movie. She and Beatty were involved when the movie was made, and I think that is at least part of why she was cast. Dustin Hoffman, Paul Sorvino, James Caan and Mandy Patinkin all turn up at least briefly. There are so many characters involved that many of them are barely used.
Warren Beatty - Dick Tracy
Charles Durning - Chief Brandon
Glenne Headly - Tess Truehart
Charlie Korsmo - The Kid
Madonna - Breathless Mahoney
Al Pacino - Big Boy
Warren Beatty - Director
My copy of Dick Tracy has the widescreen version of the movie. I have no idea if there is also a full screen version available or not. There aren't any extras on the DVD which is a bit disappointing.
Dick Tracy is a well done, entertaining movie though it might be a bit too different for some people. I think the movie has held up well and it still deserves to be seen.
This review is part of elvisdo's 2010 Funny Pages Write Off. It is also part of CaptainD's Good Movies EpiGuide 3 Write Off.
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