Even if Robert De Niro had stopped making movies in 1995, the year Heat and Casino came out, he’d still be considered one of the greatest actors of all-time, right up there with Brando, Pacino, Streep, and the guy who played Zap Rowsdower. The man was in Mean Streets, The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Brazil, Goodfellas, and Cape Fear — then the following 20 years happened. There are some fine films in there — the underrated Jackie Brown, the better-than-you-realize The Intern, the feisty Silver Linings Playbook — but to put it in terms his beloved New York Yankees would understand, De Niro strikes out 10 times for every home run.
Why is this? Well, for one thing, a movie as perfect as The Godfather Part II or Taxi Driver doesn’t come along every day, especially in a cinematic environment that favors superheroes and known commodities over original ideas. Also, De Niro is 72 years old; most actors have already peaked by the time they’ve reached their seventh decade. Or maybe De Niro doesn’t give a hoot anymore. He put in his time and now he’s living it up, Dirty Grandpa-style. That’s what Twitter user @chapmangamo thinks, at least. Using Rotten Tomatoes scores (they’re as imperfect as Shark Tale, but they’re all we’ve got), he discovered the “exact moment that Robert De Niro stopped caring.”
According to this chart, De Niro gave up in 2002, when the Eddie Murphy buddy-cop comedy Showtime, lazy City by the Sea, and Analyze This sequel Analyze That came out. This confirms what I’ve known all along:
Billy Crystal broke him.
(Via the AV Club)