Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Movie Review: "Going in Style" (1979)

Director: Martin Brest
Year: 1979
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Tired of their mundane lives and their menial social security checks, three elderly roommates decide to rob a bank so they can really enjoy their retirement.

"Going in Style" is directed by Martin Brest, who also wrote the screenplay along with Edward Cannon. It stars George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg as geriatric roommates Joe, Al, and Willie. The three men currently spend their days on a park bench feeding birds and people watching. They share a small apartment and live a very budgeted lifestyle on social security. Tired of their less than exciting day to day routine, Joe floats the idea of robbing a bank to his pals so they can better enjoy their retirement. With not much else to do or to lose, his friends agree that it may be worth a shot.

This is a movie that asks the question, "wouldn't it be funny to have three law abiding senior citizens rob a bank?" And the answer, surprisingly, is yes. It is situationally amusing to have three old men, two of whom are pushing 80 years old, stick up a bank on a whim. They put very little planning into their heist and attempt it within days of conjuring up the very idea stealing money. Now, this isn't a fall down laugh-riot type of comedy. Its humor mostly relies on the overall absurdity of the concept and the chemistry between its three principle actors. Luckily, said chemistry is excellent between the principal leads, and the acting is very good. George Burns and Art Carney are legendary comedy actors. Even at the time of this film, they had already been in the business for decades. The two of them, plus Lee Strasberg, are excellent together and play off of one another well. Through the comedy and the drama, the audience gets the sense that these three men are really bonded with one another, even in the pursuit of criminal exploits. It starts out quite light and fun, but as the movie rolls on, it starts to venture into darker, more dramatic territories that we expected, but really keeps piling on until the film's end.

Overall, the movie is shot and paced well as it zips by its run time. Unfortunately, it does seem to have a lack of character development early on. The movie essentially starts and jumps right into the robbery very quickly. We don't really know too much about the main characters prior to their heist. All we know is they are three somewhat disgruntled old men who are tight on cash and bored with life. We get a general sense of who they are and who they were before the robbery, but not much else. This is not to say "Going in Style" needs a huge, deep type of plot, but a little more spice would have been nice. This is a solid comedy crime drama BigJ had seen but had forgot about, and one I didn't know existed until I saw Zach Braff was remaking it this year. It wasn't really memorable enough to stick with BigJ, and I fear the same will be said for me in a few months. It seems to be a safe movie to remake without worrying about rabid fans saying their childhoods have been destroyed from the making of a newer version.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 89%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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