"The New New York": De Niro's Least Convincing Role Since Frankenstein?


By a country mile, De Niro's greatest role and Martin Scorsese's greatest movie.

New York's Empire State Development Corporation has enlisted the Oscar®-caliber talents of Robert De Niro to provide voiceover for a new commercial claiming the state is back in business. Over scenes of the kind of businesses (energy "highways," high-tech "centers") we now know for sure can only be built by government, the weight-gain pioneer with a whopping 94 screen credits intones: 

There's a new New York, one that's working to attract business and create jobs…nurture start ups and small businesses, reduce tax burdens and provide the lowest middle class tax rate in 58 years. Once again, New York State is a place where innovation meets determination, and where businesses lead the world. The new New York works for business; find out how it can work for yours.

What could be the problem with a major Hollywood star talking up the benefits of low taxes and a pro-business public climate? 

Well for one, a public agency with any variant of the word "Development" in its title is like a country with the word "Democratic" in its title: In practice it does the opposite of what it says. 

At CEI's Open Market blog, Matt Patterson lists some other problems with the new New York: 

Really, who is De Niro kidding? After admitting (tacitly, at any rate) in the aforementioned commercial that decades of left-wing tax-and-spend policies have driven New York industry into the ditch, has the gall to pretend to Milton Friedman-esque pronouncements on the benefits of low tax rates. Is this a policy prescription he picked up from his wide ranging experience campaigning/advocating for such free-market luminaries as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama?

Bobby D. and NYS have some nerve. In fact, New York ranks 50th – that's dead last — in CEI's "Big Labor vs. Taxpayers Index," with a 24.2 percent total union density, and a whopping 70.5 percent public-sector unionization rate. No wonder: New York is a state that tolerates — nay, encourages — forced unionization. Hey Bobby, go ask one of those "start ups" New York is intent on "nurturing" how good it is for business to allow unions access to the company coffers.

But, you say, unionization rates and labor policy are only part a state's larger economic picture. True enough. According to the Mercatus Center's "Freedom in the 50 States," which "comprehensively ranks the American states on their public policies that affect individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres," New York is — gasp! — dead last.

I think it's uncharitable of Patterson to call De Niro the " star of such classic motion pictures as Analyze That, The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Meet the Fockers, and Shark Tale." But I have to admit that in this ad De Niro does seem to be doing what he's been doing more or less steadily since Jackie Brown wrapped: phoning it in. (By contrast, Al Pacino, De Niro's Italian-American neo-realist counterpart from the seventies, continues to give his all to even the most hilariously crappy material and is always worth watching, as either an actor or a special effect. These days he's the North Dakota to De Niro's Empire State.) 

NEXT: Gov. Jerry Brown, Signing High-Speed Rail Bill: "You have to take the bull by the horns and start spending and investing in things that make sense"

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  1. Pacino worth watching? Ewww. He hasn’t done anything worth watching since GF2. He can’t play anything OTHER than himself which has become just a sad parody. At least DeNiro attempts drama comedy, Pacino just does ridiculous.

    1. Fuck em both. If NY was serious they’d a got Joe Pesci.

      1. true. At least Pesci would say “Yugoslavia” for a nickel

        1. “You think that’s funny? You think I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you?”

          1. Go get your shine box.

    2. Not only did Al Pacino appear in Adam Sandler’s “comedy” Jack Jill, he also gave an inexplicably committed performance as himself. I still don’t know what to make of that.

  2. I should like City Hall to host the inaugural convention of Alternative Enegy Executives for Smokers Rights, concluding with an excursion via Hudson River Sloop and the Erie Canal to smoke the peace pipe with the Seneca Nation’s tobacco store proprietors and shop for pro-choice industrial park space where Green Two Pipe Problem teams can puff their way to high tech solutions.

    To which Empire State Corporation ofice should we apply ?

  3. Make money using Google. Find out how to make up to $175/hr working for this billion dollar company. More info @ makecash25dotcomONLY

    1. Is the ONLY part of the address, or are you just telling us that this the ONLY way to get more info?

    2. Wow! That’s just like those bought and paid for politicians! LOL!

      1. i +1 anonoderp

  4. I agree with you about DeNiro’s general lack of giving a shit since “Jackie Brown.” It’s no coincidence that Quentin Tarantino’s output since “Jackie Brown” has been equally crapulous.

    1. I really liked that bastards movie…the new slave bounty hunter movie looks fun as well.

    2. Blasphemer! Next you’ll try telling me Joss Whedon’s stuff is no good.

  5. He really should have made more Ronin movies

    1. Got to disagree…no sequel could stand up to the original.

  6. In video at 0:44 beehives on a skyscraper roof in downtown Manhattan.


  7. Since we’re talking about De Niro: Bert and Ernie do ‘Casino’.

  8. I met De Niro once. We had a drink and talked movies. I liked the guy. This was back in 1997-8 or so. I asked what he was planning on doing. He said he was done doing the typecast gangster stuff and wanted to do comedies. He said, “comedy is very dear to my heart… i want to make people laugh. Drama is all well and good, but humor is universal. I am tired and old and want to laugh and enjoy my work” That said, I still prefer Raging Bull to ‘meet the Fockers’. But sure, the guy’s a shill for NYC institutionalism…. I still forgive him. NYC is a fucking wasteland of good people often doing stupid shit. I don’t really hold it against the guy. He’s – what, in his 70s now? He’s lived in a Tribeca+hollywood bubbleworld for 20+ years. I feel for the guy a bit. Schumer, on the other hand – fuck him, I hope he gets run over by a dumptruck.

    1. …driven by Joe Pesci!

    2. I’m just disappointed to see Harry Tuttle shilling for the government.

  9. DeNiro was excellent in Stone (2010).

  10. Motherfuck, these commercials have bugged me from the beginning.

    Besides the usual pap about “creating jobs”, it’s North Korea-esque: LOOK! A giant waterfall! Railroad tracks! This is a perfect place for business! Ignore what you’ve heard, people are happy and productive here!

    You know, a low middle-class tax rate might be great for the proletariat, but notice how he makes no mention of the fucking SKY-HIGH tax rates they stick to the bourgeoisie.

    Seriously, I thought it was parody at first…

    1. It is parody…it just doesn’t know it!

      Yes look at the happy NewYorkers happily tending the communal fields….of happiness.

  11. Just stick a video camera out the window on a drive through the Southern Tier and say “Thank goodness we didn’t allow fracking to ruin this landscape, am I right?”

  12. Those commercials really need to have a stop-and-frisk disclaimer for black and Hispanic businesspersons.

  13. New York is business unfriendly because it can afford to be. Businesses want to be in New York and they will put up with what New York throws at them because they can still make a profit and because they want to live in New York. For most dudes on the make, locating in Woodville, Mississippi doesn’t seem to be an option. New York, in effect, “knows” this, and charges “rent” just as a landlord does. It’s about markets, really.

    1. This is actually quite true. I’ve had the same thought myself.

  14. Reminded me of this:

    Nick Lowe appeared on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast. He spoke of his relationship with Costello with affection and a dollop of good humor.

    Maron: …Would you put him [Elvis Costello] in the same arena as Bob Dylan?

    Lowe: Well…he certainly puts himself in the same arena as Bob Dylan. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very fond of him. We get along great. I always feel with him, as I describe it, as rather like a slightly disapproving elder brother. He works so hard, and whenever I see him, he always comes up come up to me and says something like…”Oh yeah, well Bobby DeNiro and I went out with so and so.” And, I find myself saying, “Well, Robert DeNiro. He hasn’t really made a good film for quite a long time, now has he?” I find myself slagging off whatever he says. But I really am ever so fond of him. He’s a great fellow.

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