'Stand Up Guys': Mostly, it falls flat

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceJanuary 31, 2013 

In Stand Up Guys, Christopher Walken, left, Alan Arkin and Al Pacino — Oscar winners all — play longtime friends and former mob co-workers.

COURTESY OF LIONSGATE

  • MOVIE REVIEW

    'Stand Up Guys'

    2 stars out of 5

    R for language, sexual content, violence and brief drug use. Sidney Kimmel/Lionsgate. 1:34. Fayette Mall.

Not every senior citizen passes his or her autumn years in dignity, surrounded by family, respected by the few peers they still have left in this world.

And if the retirees in question are grizzled mobsters, old "made men" who haven't been in "our thing" for years and years, the last thing they'd ever expect to be is dignified.

One might live in denial, straining to act out versions of their younger selves in defiance of the passage of time. Another might have, for all intents and purposes, "checked out" before he checks out.

And one might wear the weight of their years and the guilt of their deeds, hanging on almost out of remorse.

Stand Up Guys is about three aged stand-up guys, a "crew" that hasn't been a crew in almost 30 years. It has three comically charismatic Oscar winners in the lead roles — Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin — and a plot with room for comedy in it.

But the funereal tone is better suited to a picture with more gravitas than this film directed by Fisher Stevens earns.

Pacino is Val, a mop-topped convict who gets out of a long stint in prison as the film opens.

Walken is Doc, his pal, loyal since the '70s, when Val went in. Doc is every inch the old man — a veritable recluse, painting, living in a dank apartment, visiting the same diner for every predictable meal.

But Val wants to party like it's 1979. Find a bar, find a brothel. That's not working out? Find some of this "new stuff" they've got now, Viagra.

It's meant to be a night "like the old days." But there's a mob boss who still has a grudge. One guy is supposed to kill the other.

Val and Doc get into a kerfuffle. They right a wrong, steal a car. They drag their old getaway driver (Alan Arkin) out of a nursing home, oxygen tank and all.

They reminisce. "Remember that time you threw that Greek out the hotel window?"

Walken brings a quiet dignity to Doc, a man of violence long reformed — "I'm retired. I'm serious."

But Pacino's Val ignores the entreaties of one and all to not embarrass himself. He does.

Arkin sparks the picture to life, acting his age and being funny at it. Enlivening a few scenes are the addition of Julianna Margulies as the child of one of the guys and Lucy Punch as the madam at the cut-rate brothel.

But the central premise is a half-hearted retread. And the gags come from a score of earlier films and sitcoms.

Which is pretty much where Stand Up Guys is stuck.


MOVIE REVIEW

'Stand Up Guys'

2 stars out of 5

R for language, sexual content, violence and brief drug use. Sidney Kimmel/Lionsgate. 1:34. Fayette Mall.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service