Film Review: Going in Style
By Scott Muller
I tell people that while I’m chronologically 40 years old, half the time I act like a 10-year-old and half the time I act like I’m 70…which averages out to 40. This past weekend, I let the 70-year-old in me take control of my movie pick, and picked Going in Style. While this movie might skew a little outside of this site’s demographic, why don’t you sit with peepaw and he’ll tell you whether or not you should see this movie? I might have a Werther’s hard candy in my pocket if you sit down and listen quietly…
If you’ve read any of my other reviews (The Belko Experiment and Sneaky Pete) I like to begin my reviews with a quick synopsis and a two-sentence review, since I know you whippersnappers have video games to play (like Mass Effect: Andromeda…that game is taking me forever) and Interwebs to surf. So, here it goes…
Peepaw’s Quick Synopsis of Going in Style
Three retired steel workers (Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin) plan a bank robbery…hijinks ensue…because they’re old and stuff.
Peepaw’s Quick Review of Going in Style
This movie is one of those movies that I’ll stop and watch on TBS or watch again if it’s free on Amazon Prime. If you don’t overanalyze it, there are plenty of laughs and good-hearted smiles to be had watching this movie, but if you really want to find fault in this movie, you’ll have no problem doing so. All in all, this was a fun way to spend 90 minutes, but it’s probably better suited to be a rental or a watch on cable than a theater movie experience.
Peepaw’s Long, Drawn-Out Review of Going in Style
Well, for those of you who’ve stuck around, peepaw is proud of you. Have a butterscotch candy…
Anyway, to be completely honest, I went to this movie with absolutely no expectations. I couldn’t remember the last pure comedy I saw in a theater (maybe Central Intelligence, which was a perfectly fine movie), so I decided to give this a shot. Considering the talent at the top of the poster (Caine, Freeman, and Arkin), I thought that at least it couldn’t be terrible. I gave it an IMDB search and, much to my delight, discovered that Christopher Lloyd and Ann-Margret were also involved, and I was actually looking forward to the movie, but keeping my expectations in check.
The movie begins with retired steel worker Joe (Caine) at the bank trying to figure out why he’s about to lose his home. Turns out that he fell for a “teaser rate” that a scummy bank employee (played with amazing sliminess by Josh Pais) pushed on him. Joe has little time before his home, where his daughter and granddaughter also live, is taken from him. In the middle of his meeting at the bank, the place is robbed by masked, gun-wielding baddies. The robbers, however, only rob the bank and not the customers. One gunman, in particular, passes up the opportunity to rob Joe, instead offering that a society needs to take care of its elderly. The scene ends with Joe smiling…a light bulb going off in his head.
As the movie progresses, we meet Joe’s buddies, Willie (Freeman) and Albert (Arkin). Willie is a laid-back grandpa who doesn’t get to see his family enough and Albert is a grumpy old codger who cracks jokes about his mortality pretty much every 30 seconds. After the three learn that the steel plant at which they worked is moving overseas and using their pension fund to pay off debts, Joe offers up the plan to rob the bank that’s doing all the taking. At first, the two scoff at the idea, but as events unfold, they both hop on board.
Now, as far as this movie goes, you’re not really getting anything new. You’re going to see three old guys do things old guys do a lot: stumble and fall down, complain about being old, gripe about current technology, complain about being old, talk about the old days, and complain about being old. Have you heard these jokes before? Absolutely, but that doesn’t make them any less amusing. I got some good belly laughs from this movie, including a fantastic scene where the three buddies “practice” robbing a grocery store. Is this plot something new and fresh? Nah, but it had a couple legitimately good moments that I didn’t see coming. Plus, it really is a pretty warm movie. I’m sure your typical movie critic will call it “sappy” or “syrupy,” but I genuinely enjoyed the movie and its message. It certainly helps that the five over-75-year old stars (Ann-Margret is the “youngest” at 75) are all fantastic, delivering lines that would be far less funny if a crappier actor was delivering them. Even Lloyd, who is essentially playing an older version of his Reverend Jim Ignatowski character from taxi, made me laugh once or twice.
Does this movie have its flaws? Sure. If we were to really examine whether three 80-year-old men could rob a bank with two weeks’ preparation, I’m sure we would be able to poke tons of holes in the plot. This movie has definitely been done before, with old guys trying to do things that young guys usually do, whether it be boxing (Grudge Match with De Niro and Stallone), partying (Last Vegas with Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, and De Niro), or going into space (Space Cowboys with Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland, Jack Lemon, and Tommy Lee Jones). There will always be a movie that has old people doing things that it’s humorous for old people to be doing. That doesn’t necessarily mean the movie’s bad. Hell, how many more superhero, zombie, vampire, or drunken sex romp movies do there need to be? I was willing to overlook the flaws for 90 minutes to just enjoy a fun, lighthearted, silly movie that made me laugh.
For the sake of a real review, it’s tough to give this movie a score. I enjoyed the movie, but I realize that if someone were going to this film expecting a comedic masterpiece, they might be disappointed. I think, to be fair, I would have to give this movie a six as a theater movie and an eight as a rental or Netflix watch. It would probably top out as a nine as something on network television.
In summary, skip this movie in the theater, or wait until it gets into a dollar theater or comes out on DVD or Netflix and get some friends together to watch. It’s a fun way to spend an hour and a half, unless you’re a grumpy old codger or a young hoodlum who has no respect for your elders. Otherwise, give this movie a watch and you’ll see it for what it is, five fantastic older actors doing what they do best.