Dick Tracy (1990)

Genres - Action, Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Action Comedy, Gangster Film  |   Release Date - Jun 15, 1990 (USA)  |   Run Time - 101 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Ravishing production design from Richard Sylbert, gorgeous cinematography from Vittorio Storaro, and a memorable musical score from Stephen Sondheim (performed ably by pop star Madonna) are the highlights of this film from co-writer, director, producer, and star Warren Beatty. Unfortunately, the film's script has been worked over by a committee of scribes, resulting in a somewhat fractured narrative that is the typical end product of too many cooks in the literary kitchen. There is probably no film of the late 20th century that more powerfully proves the old adage, "If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage." Every single production element here is superior, from the makeup effects to the costumes, to the supporting players such as Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Glenne Headly. In fact, from a strictly visual point of view, Dick Tracy (1990) is probably one of the best-made films of the decade, featuring a crew of skilled artisans at the top of their collective game. In the story department, however, the film never quite gels, displaying the same emotional flatness as the two-dimensional comic strip it's based upon, never coming to life in the exhilarating fashion of other comics-based films such as Batman (1989) and The X-Men (2000). The hard emphasis is clearly on the "noble" in "noble failure," but Dick Tracy just doesn't quite work.