“Simone” holds a special place in my memories because was one of the first movies we saw during our Tuesday Movie Night club. Just what is Tuesday Movie Night you ask?
Starting in 2002 until around 2006 or so, Tuesday Movie night was a weekly tradition for me and my friends. Back then, all Tuesday night shows at the Patriot Cinemas behind the Hanover Mall were $5, and so it became our thing.
The evening usually started with dinner somewhere around Hanover MA, most of the time at Pizzeria Uno’s, but there were other places we’d visit on occasion like Papa Gino’s and Bickford’s.
Anyways, when we saw “Simone,” we decided to eat after the movie. For some reason there were like 17 of us that night, I think because Laneit invited a bunch of people from his work. I remember our group was so big that Uno’s had to put us in the function room to seat us all together.
Most of the conversation while we waited for our food was about how terrible “Simone” had been. In case you don’t remember the movie, here are the details:
“Simone” tells the story of movie director Viktor Taransky (Al Pacino) whose career has seen better days. For a reason I can’t remember, the director inherits a computer program that allows him to create an actress out of thin air. This would be Simone, and she soon becomes a big star and the center of a media firestorm. Now the director is trapped: The more audiences admire Simone, the less he can reveal the truth about his work.
Al Pacino plays the once brilliant director, but even he couldn’t save this movie. This is probably the first movie where Pacino mailed it in. The actor never looks like he’s having fun, or maybe he just read the script, who knows?
Taransky’s ex-wife, Elaine (Catherine Keener), plays the head of the studio, and she has lost all hope to save his career, deciding to pull the plug on his latest project. I have never been a fan of Catherine Keener, and this movie did not change my mind. She’s basically playing the same character she played in “Death to Smoochy.”
In pops in Hank Aleno (Elias Koteas), who leaves Pacino the computer program he invented in his will. Al starts messing around with the software and the beautiful, talented and Simone (Rachel Roberts) is the born. Viktor loves her because she doesn’t need a hairdresser, makeup, chauffeurs, limos, a private plane, a stand-in or even a stunt woman.
That’s all well and good, but “Simone” never goes anywhere, not that there weren’t any opportunities: When they’re filming a movie Pacino tells the other actors Simone will be added to the scenes later. Now that’s convenient.
When paparazzi’s try to track Simone down in a hotel, Pacino plants lady things all over the suite so that nobody become suspicious. At one point Pacino has Simone sing to a live crowd at the Los Angeles Coliseum and nobody in the crowd wonders why they can see through Simone.
The filmmakers blew huge opportunities with these moments. Why not have a famous music act join Simone on stage? Or why not have Simone appear on Letterman or another comedy show? They could have brought in other big name actors to interact with Simone.
“Simone” didn’t know what kind of movie it wanted to be. It has sci-fi elements, but for about an hour it tries to be a comedy. Then, for the final act, “Simone” turns into a crime drama. Seriously, the movie’s big climax comes when Al Pacino get charged with Simone’s murder.
The only good thing I can say about this movie is that Pacino’s young daughter Lainey (Evan Rachel Wood) steal most of the scenes she is in. She’s the only character in the movie that still believes in Al and his work, and she’s the only character I was rooting for.