A pair of aging stickup men try to get the old gang back together for one last hurrah before one of the guys takes his last assignment — to kill his comrade.
Year 3, Film #39
THE REVIEW: What makes Stand Up Guys a funny and enjoyable film also makes it slow and tiresome. There really isn’t much more to the film than Val (Al Pacino) and Doc (Christopher Walken) going out all over the city to celebrate Val’s parole. The catch is, Doc is tasked to kill Val because he killed the boss’ only son on a job 28 years ago; the same job that got Val tossed in prison.
Going off the story, there isn’t much that’s special about the film. It’s a simple buddy comedy that goes through the paces to an inevitable ending. Nothing is surprising and nothing really blows you away. You’re just pushed along, scene-to-scene, waiting to see where these old men go next. The very minor “twists” that are thrown in — who is Alex (Addison Timlin), how about Nina (Julianna Margulies), and what is Richard’s (Alan Arkin) secret talent? — make you say, “Hmm, that’s interesting,” but not much more.
But while I’m making this sound like a pretty horrible and boring film, it really isn’t, and that’s all thanks to the actors. If this film was cast with anyone other than Walken, Pacino, and Arkin, it mostly likely would have fallen flat and been as boring as I described above (Clint Eastwood might have made a good substitution). These three carry the film to places that are new and exciting. It’s like watching two friends (Alan Arkin comes in more than halfway through the film) being themselves and having a good time. It’s old-people humor that appeals to a larger demographic.
There are two disclaimers I need to make though: 1) old-people humor is definitely my cup of tea, so I might be a little biased in that respect; and 2) laughter was definitely very intermittent. I can count the number of times I laughed on both my hands, which, when compared with other recent comedies I’ve seen is embarrassingly few. Although I do have to give credit where’s it due, the handful of times I did laugh, I laughed pretty hard.
THE RATING: 3 out of 5