“The Offer,” a Paramount+ limited series whose sixth episode was slated to air Thursday night, is a splashy but trashy take on how the bestseller “The Godfather” became a legendary film franchise.
The maiden episode of the venture – which also broadcasts on Amazon Prime Video – is arguably the worst of the bunch because it tries too hard, culminating with a shattering bang. Among the debut show’s pedantic one-liners comes when a mobster advises his cohort to “leave the cannoli” (a similar oft-quoted line occurs in the original movie).
As created by Michael Tolkin, “The Offer” proves addictively entertaining when it isn’t trotting out trivial subplots and amateurish stunts.
Al Ruddy (stellar Miles Teller), a disgruntled corporate programmer, carves his Hollywood niche by conjuring up the sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes” and then pulling off a pivotal meeting with Paramount hotshot Robert Evans (sublime Matthew Goode).
In short order, things go Ruddy’s way: He marries worldly Francoise (Nora Arnezeder), hires a savvy secretary (Juno Temple) and is handed the task of developing “The Godfather” bestseller into a movie. Easier said than done, given the backlash by Italian leaders.
Additional major players: Dan Fogler is an uncanny match as director Francis Ford Coppola; Giovanni Ribisi, with a voice like Wolfman Jack’s and a doctored face, portrays disingenuous mob boss Joe; while Patrick Gallo embodies the diabetic author and pepper pot Mario Puzo, who wants a hand in the silver-screen adaptation: “I was born to write this screenplay.”
As the movie franchise’s eponymous don, Justin Chambers does a credible impersonation of Marlon Brando; less believable is Frank John Hughes’ profane take on Frank Sinatra, who said during a skirmish with admirer Puzo, “I can’t choose my fans.”
Rounding out central casting are a young Al Pacino (Anthony Ippolito), a thrifty Paramount mogul (Burn Gorman) and his foot soldier (an unconvincing Colin Hanks).
Obvious parallels are drawn between organized crime’s underworld and Hollywood’s organized capitalism. Seemingly every other scene in “The Offer” involves money, budgets, financial support – you get the picture.
The project also has no shortage of in-house references to other Paramount productions – “Chinatown,” “Love Story” and “The Getaway” foremost. The likes of Ali MacGraw, Robert Redford and Ann-Margret are represented here and there, as if elucidating Tinseltown’s star-studded facade.
The dialogue throughout “The Offer” is hit and miss. Without question, your ears will perk up when Ruddy asserts he’s crafting “an ice-blue terrifying film about people you love.”
Other scenes, however, may leave you shaking your head. Take it or leave it.