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  • Series Premiere Date: Apr 7, 2018
Paterno Image
Metascore
69

Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics What's this?

User Score
4.6

Mixed or average reviews- based on 24 Ratings

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  • Summary: Directed by Barry Levinson, the film focuses on Penn State's football coach Joe Paterno (Al Pacino) as the story of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal breaks and ultimately leads to Paterno's termination.
  • Genre(s): Drama, Sports, Movie/Mini-Series
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Apr 4, 2018
    91
    The portrayal of Paterno is right up there with Pacino’s very best work. Kudos to HBO for keeping him center stage, which is where he still belongs.
  2. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Dec 14, 2018
    88
    Unsettling and riveting and scathing.
  3. 80
    Paterno’s makers, director Barry Levinson and writers Debora Cahn and John C. Richards, have a risky idea that mostly pays off: They’ve constructed their film around a vacuum. ... That’s the downside to making your protagonist semi-mute and depriving him of a revelatory final scene. But the upside, I think, is worth it. The subject of Paterno isn’t venality. ... It’s his shrunkenness that’s the cautionary tale.
  4. Entertainment Weekly
    Reviewed by: Darren Franich
    Apr 2, 2018
    75
    It's a fine, if recessive, performance, but Paterno himself gets lost in the shuffle as director Barry Levinson covers every aspect of the story. [6/13 Apr 2018, p.84]
  5. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Apr 5, 2018
    70
    When the film feels needlessly vague or remote, Pacino brings it back in with just a look or a sigh.
  6. Reviewed by: Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
    Apr 9, 2018
    50
    A drama about sexual abuse and institutional corruption might seem topical, but all Paterno offers its audience is a chance to re-experience the cable news cycle of yesteryear.
  7. TV Guide Magazine
    Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Mar 29, 2018
    40
    Director Barry Levinson fumbles in his latest collaboration with star Al Pacino. ... Paterno spends most of the movie stewing in irritable confusion. [2 Apr - 15 Apr 2018, p.11]

See all 19 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 5
  2. Negative: 1 out of 5
  1. May 16, 2018
    10
    Powerful, exonerative portrayal of Paterno. Transformative. Depicts the heroic Paterno, not the excoriated Freeh Report one. The key is thePowerful, exonerative portrayal of Paterno. Transformative. Depicts the heroic Paterno, not the excoriated Freeh Report one. The key is the redress of Paterno's lawyer son when asks if he didn't hear about rumors. Supernal rebuke warning of the devastating damage that can be incurred by judging people in that manner. Pure anguish in realizing that this forbearance resulted in its own devastation. And makes clear that Paterno believed Sandusky had concocted his own image orbit through the Second Mile and wasn't a product of Paterno's. His remark that Sandusky had duped him along with scores of others, powerful figures, child professionals, exploiting that orbit resonates as ruefully sincere.

    Curley's email stated that Paterno wanted Sandusky to be confronted with the charge. What's wrong with that? That's basic to give a man a chance to explain. That would be a thought arising from the heroic Paterno.

    The question has never been whether or not Paterno believed McQueary. It is this. Did Paterno believe he did enough to set the judicial/police/social services investigative process in motion in order to arrive at the appropriate determination regarding Sandusky. It would be perfectly ok for Paterno to take a stance of utter detachment as long as HE BELIEVED HE DID THIS.

    Don't know. Won't never be known. The movie's inherent premise is that the answer is yes. Pacino's artistic portrayal weighs ever so slightly toward a self-recriminating guilt rather than a guilt arising from conscious knowledge of deliberate subterfuge. However, the outrage of society against Paterno is understandable as the answer appears on the surface to be no. Never asked again about the status of the presumably ongoing/completed investigation. Did in 1998. Didn't in 2001. Is the fact that Sandusky was a direct subordinate in 1998 but not in 2001 a sufficient reason?

    The movie's closing scene balances out its driving viewpoint. But this movie gives Paterno's life a chance to be defined by Paterno, not Sandusky. It uplifts Paterno, his family, Penn State, and the admirers of Paterno. Pacino's acting makes it possible. It is a masterpiece in the portrayal of different perspectives.
    Expand
  2. Apr 10, 2018
    10
    This is an absolutely horrible story, but a story that has to be told. Joe Paterno was a great man, a great coach, a greatThis is an absolutely horrible story, but a story that has to be told. Joe Paterno was a great man, a great coach, a great husband...........but at the end of the day he had the ability to stop a child rapist and he chose to protect his kingdom over the moral and ethical easy choice. PSU cult members will always blindly defend him and that is disgusting. Expand
  3. Apr 11, 2018
    5
    why are they talking about him..

    Paterno There isn't much to look up to in this plot, no matter how much impact it creates on screen the
    why are they talking about him..

    Paterno

    There isn't much to look up to in this plot, no matter how much impact it creates on screen the characters are left off far away disconnected from the audience which is never acceptable especially on such character driven feature. Barry Levinson; the director, tries too hard on executing the anticipated vision but fails to deliver it. And if anything that helps one survive this feature, it is Al Pacino and his brilliant portrayal that is supported with a good cast. Paterno is plausible on some aspects but is piled up by this raw script whose attempt to go in detail on facts leads to an informative art rather than being entertaining one.
    Expand
  4. Jan 16, 2019
    4
    Pacino does a great job but the film does little to offer any new insights into the man as he is dealing with the falling out of the scandalPacino does a great job but the film does little to offer any new insights into the man as he is dealing with the falling out of the scandal that brought down the college he built up. Instead, He comes off as a man who cares little about how things affected everyone else until he has to deal with his own mortality. And I wasn't a fan of how Paterno tried to put Joe in a better light than what he really was: He wasn't some ill-informed man that possibly knew more than he did, Which is what they tried to portrait in the film. He was a man that repeatedly covered up a scandal in order to save his own skin and the legacy he built. Expand
  5. Apr 14, 2018
    0
    Waste of time with no digging into this terrible attempt to be a Paterno bio. Much has been shown to be wrong and evidence of major failuresWaste of time with no digging into this terrible attempt to be a Paterno bio. Much has been shown to be wrong and evidence of major failures by Pennsylvania gov agency’s failings given almost no coverage. No conclusion leaves viewer hollow. Expand

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