Movie Review: “Stand Up Guys” – Stand Down Vets

Written by Matthew da Silva February 08, 2013

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Hobbling into select theatres last Friday were the trifecta of Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin, playing a group of retired stickup men in “Stand Up Guys”, going out for a wild night on the town for one last hoorah…quite literally.  Directed by Fisher Stevens, the film tries to bring these film legends together in an attempt to spark the charisma that these veterans once brought to the screen, a spark that was extinguished by tired performances and a lackluster script.

Party Poopers

Val (Al Pacino), a stickup man who took the fall for a heist gone wrong, has been spending his days in prison for the past 28 years of his life. On the day of his release, his former partner, Doc (Christopher Walken), greets his pal at the prison gates, taking him out for a night on the town for his first night of freedom.Val will soon find out, though, that this may be his only night of freedom, as he soon learns that Doc has been employed to kill him on the day after his release, a contract that Doc signed on the day that Val went into the joint. Rather than running, Val stays, longing to spend one more night on the town, picking up their old driver Hirsch (Alan Arkin) for one last “party”.

The events that occur are far from a party, and though Val gets his booze on, snorts prescription pills for cataracts, and visits a house of maidens waiting to pleasure him for the right price, the party is often cut short by their melancholic doting on the grim reaper. The awkward tension that arises from the job that Doc soon has to carry out occasionally leads to insightful, humorous commentary between the characters, bringing them back to their former glory and prowess.

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Substance Unabused

More often than not, the script is thinner than Al Pacino’s hair, never allowing the talented actors much room to work with. A number of the conversations resembled the bickering between characters in “Seinfeld”, conversations about random nothings that at times worked to lead towards the bigger questions on life that the film proposed.Where “Seinfeld” was rife with wit, though, the film’s script didn’t hold up, making the grizzled actors look like a senile group of retirement home pals who decided to pop a few extra Xanax’s and hold it together just enough to leave them relatively unscathed after their last adventure.

The script was further hampered by the characters clear lack of enthusiasm, whose nonchalance in delivering their lines often made the veterans look tired and apathetic rather than cool, calm, and collected. The chemistry between Pacino, Walken, and Arkin is omnipresent, but the lack of an intriguing storyline and remorse for everything leaves the audience disconnected from the events on screen.

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Plucking Weary Strings

Bumbling a throughout the movie is a cheesy, recurring jazz-blues rendition, tying together key scenes and trying to instill some emotional resonance as well. Mirroring the outdated riff are the grizzled, weary actors, whose performance may appeal to their own retired generation but ultimately never come close to bringing them back to their former glory.

My Rating: 4.5/10

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