Going in Style
Directed by Zach Braff. Starring Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret, Matt Dillon, John Ortiz, Joey King, Peter Serafinowicz, Christopher Lloyd, Josh Pais, Kenan Thompson, Siobhan Fallon Hogan. (2017, PG-13, 96 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., April 7, 2017
The geezer humor is just as funny here as it was in the original version of this film, which starred George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg. I mean this as a compliment, although it’s, admittedly, a bit backhanded. Theodore Melfi (writer/director of Hidden Figures and St. Vincent) updates Martin Brest’s 1979 screenplay, but the details of the story and how it’s told are not nearly as interesting as watching (in both instances) three consummate actors bouncing off one another and delighting in the interplay. Go for the actors, stay for the popcorn and the sight of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin allowed free range to do their thing.
The three men play retirees who’ve been living in Brooklyn since long before it became a colony for hipsters. Their dull daily routines are upturned when the steel plant they worked for reneges on their pensions and instead uses the remaining funds to move their operations overseas. Adding insult to injury, the community bank that refuses them personal loans is the same firm that’s overseeing the plant’s divestiture. A plot to rob the bank is soon hatched and the bulk of the film is devoted to the planning and execution of the caper. It’s nothing terribly original, but, in essence, the plot isn’t too far removed from last year’s popular thriller Hell or High Water: the wretchedly abused getting even with the banks that done ’em wrong. Except that Going in Style is a comedy that shoots blanks instead of real bullets, and old pros in lieu of young studs. The film even features some similar supporting characters: a dogged detective (Dillon) and a sassy waitress (Hogan). Other welcome support work comes from Christopher Lloyd, Josh Pais, Peter Serafinowicz, and Kenan Thompson, although Ann-Margret’s sex kitten-turned-sexy mama routine has become a bit tired. The ending of the film is refreshingly unconventional, especially in this “tough on crime” age we’re currently living in. And it’s nice, for a change, to see movie stars acting their age.