Thursday, April 6, 2017

Movie Review: "Going in Style" (2017)

Director: Zach Braff
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes
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After losing their pensions, three retirees and lifelong friends decide to rob the bank handling their pension liquidation. 

"Going in Style" is directed by Zach Braff, who is known for his fabulous indie movie "Garden State," and is written by Theodore Melfi, who wrote and directed the Oscar nominated film "Hidden Figures." It is a remake of the 1979 film of the same name by Edward Cannon. It stars Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin as Willie, Joe, and Albert, three retirees and lifelong friends who, after losing their pensions and in desperate need of money, decide to rob a bank. With no experience, the three seek out help from a professional by the name of Jesus, played by John Ortiz, to help them plan the perfect heist.

As we mentioned, this film is a remake of the 1979 comedy which starred George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg, who filled the roles of Joe, Albert, and Willie. This time around, it is Caine, Arkin, and Freeman's turn to tackle those characters. However, outside of sharing a title, principal characters, and the same basic concept, the two films are really quite different. Melfi and Braff create something that feels more like a comedic heist movie rather than a situational caper with lots of drama. They take their time building the characters and the lives of these men in depth, developing their backstories, and showing how they go about planning their robbery. Unlike the original, which drops the audience smack dab in the middle of one of the men wanting to rob a bank on a relative whim with no planning or preparation whatsoever, this time, we get some justification for their actions, which may be considered cliché, ridiculous, or overdone. Heck, the Oscar nominated movie "Hell or High Water" had similar justification, and that was nominated for the biggest bloody award of the year! It helps to have three great actors like Arkin, Caine, and Freeman at the helm of this average but lighthearted crime romp. Their chemistry is dynamic and amusing, and they all have such tremendous charisma, you can't help but root for them even though they are committing a felony.

"Going in Style" is a bit of a formulaic heist story that only works because the protagonists are three senior citizens with no criminal background who are taking the initiative to fight the system that has seemingly fought against them. If this film were made with any other age group, it wouldn't be nearly as funny. Rather than able-bodied master criminals like in the "Ocean's Eleven" series, these older gentlemen get into a situation knowing full well they may live out their rest of their potentially short days in prison and still want to commit the crime anyway. Not everything works in the jokes department as Christopher Lloyd's appearance as Milton made us cringe every time he showed up on screen. If we were in the target demographic for this movie, we would be mortified that that's what people assume the elderly act like on a regular basis. It made us a little embarrassed for Lloyd.

Other than these instances, we honestly had fun with this movie and its characters despite some of the geriatric stereotypes seen in other films like "Last Vegas." We laughed from time to time at the comedy, and we even empathized with the plight of these men who were screwed out of their hard earned pensions in order for their company to save themselves, even if that premise is somewhat absurd. The subject matter is nothing all that new, but we still had a fine time nevertheless as it strolls by its run time. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin give lively, spirited, compelling performances and have excellent rapport and chemistry with one another, which makes it all the more engaging.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~42%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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