Thursday, February 7, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW - Stand Up Guys

Here come a real mixed bag of a movie, the new Stand Up Guys in limited release.  What a great cast, what a great idea, but what is missing?

Stand Up Guys is a fun concept for a movie.  About 3 old criminals who are now in their 70's.   They are cut from a different cloth as far as being bad guys are concerned, and as simply being men.  This story sets out to prove even bad guys mature with age and gain perspective they didn't have in their heyday.  This is part comedy, part drama, and part tragedy.  It gives credence that they don't make them like this anymore.  Men, or criminals.

This is the story of Val (Al Pacino), and his best friend Doc (Christopher Walken). Val has just been released from prison after serving a 28 year sentence for killing the son of a local crime boss during a crime they both were involved with years ago.   It's not really sure who actually killed the son, but Val being a stand up guy took the fall so no one else would have to.   He did his time, now he is out, and is making up for lost time by eating, drinking and visiting hookers in the first 12 hours of his release.

Problem is, the crime boss leader named Claphands (Mark Margolis) has a contract out on Val, and he is extorting Doc to do the deed.  And he has until 10AM the next day to do it, or he will go after Doc's pride and joy his granddaughter Alex (Addison Timlin).  Val knows this, and accepts it.  So they go through the night reliving the old days, settling old scores and making new wrongs right.  They gather up one of their old cronies Hirsch (Alan Arkin) and off they go on a full nights adventure.  The three have also found out the world has changed and it is not like the old days.  But the bigger question is, how will this end up at 10AM with Val and Doc?

There is a lot good about this movie.  The writing is somewhat slick with snappy, and creative dialogue at times, problem is just not all the time.  The story is fun and creative for the most part, and they develop some real nice characters.  But the trouble is, there just is something missing that prevents it from being really above the fray.  I think that overall, the enormous talents of our three principle actors is underused.   There are not enough poignant moments in this move.

The supporting cast is great.  Small roles filled by really well cast actors including Timlin, Julianna Margulies, Venessa Ferlito and Lucy Punch who was really funny in her small role as the madam of the house of ill repute that Val, Doc and  Hirsch visit.   I don't want to say that the three leads mailed it in because they didn't.   But the story as creative as it was, could have used another rewrite or two.   They just had only so much to work with.

Stand Up Guys.   Good, yes.   But an opportunity missed to be great.

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