Going in Style
Starring Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret, Christopher Lloyd, Matt Dillon, John Ortiz, Kenan Thompson
Zach Braff (Garden State) is behind the camera on this elderly buddy film, which is a remake of the George Burns picture of the same name from 1979. Batman’s most trusted cohorts Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox, also known as Sir Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, reunite on their six collaboration. I’ve referred to this title as “Going Out in Style”, “Out in Style”, everything but the forgettable title it’s actually stuck with. It caters to the AARP crowd, flush with old man jokes and a silly plot, yet the themes of friendship and loyalty are likely to strike the right chords if it finds an audience. Despite being an unnecessary remake, Theodore Melfi’s script leans heavily on clichés associated with these type films including Stand Up Guys (starring Arkin) and Last Vegas (starring Freeman).
Three friends in New York are finding it increasingly hard to survive on their social security checks and pensions from a company they worked for over twenty years. With their pensions being jeopardized because the industry is moving to Vietnam, Joe (Caine) afraid of losing his home, concludes robbing a bank if their only hope. Conveniently it’s the same bank that will be handing their pensions and has treated the men poorly this past decade. He enlists best friends and former co-workers Willie (Freeman) and Albert (Arkin) to assist in this heist. Honest men, with no criminal experience in need of training to pull this off. They learn to shoot weapons, drive the getaway van, and plan the perfect alibi. Each have something worth risking their life and freedom for, arguing the system has left them no alternative.
Dysfunctional, comedic, crime film, that every five minutes feels the urge to remind the audience they are old dudes.
It’s a dysfunctional, comedic, crime film, that every five minutes feels the urge to remind the audience they are old dudes. This practice becomes a quickly tiring joke on top of all the other ridiculous behavior that’s played for low brow laughs. There is an homage to Children of Men during a pot-store shopping scene, where we see the flavor “Strawberry Cough” that should bring viewers back to Caine’s character in the 2005 film. This leads us to one of the movies biggest clichés as the guys get high just like the senior ladies in I’ll See You In My Dreams. Apparently, that’s a prerequisite for all films featuring characters over the age of 65 now. Caine is by far the lead here, and in one brief conversation he has with ex-son-in-law we get a glimpse of what could have been a better film.
“It’s been a real hell of a time planning a heist with you gentleman,” Willie says. Has it? Going in Style skips much of the real planning he is referring to, subbing those moments for more gags and laughs. However, the film lands one truly funny scene, that’s a payoff with an opening moment featuring Josh Pais as the wormy banker. Let’s just say gun blanks have never been more hysterical. The irony of three hardworking, honest, and respectable men dabbling in crime isn’t lost but the story rewards and approves their decision to go the illegal route in solving their problems. Going in Style also finds Matt Dillon behind the badge for the first time since his Oscar nomination in Crash. Braff seems a bizarre choice as the director here, and it’s by far the least impressive and creative of his directorial efforts.
Braff stalls as director, Arkin/Freeman repeat similar geezer roles, this AARP crowd please gets stuck in clichés.