Stand Up Guys review: best exotic mobster parole day

Stand Up Guys yellow light Christopher Walken Al Pacino

Even when Walken, Pacino, and Arkin are phoning it in — on a rotary phone — they still earn their status as icons.
I’m “biast” (pro): love the cast (who doesn’t?)

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Christopher Walken meets Al Pacino outside the prison he’s just been paroled from, and they go spring Alan Arkin from his nursing home for one last boys’ day (and night) out of criminal misdeeds and mayhem. They’re mobsters, retired, and if hypertension or a stroke doesn’t get ’em before the end of the night, their pasts might just catch up with them in the usual way of lifelong doers of very bad deeds. Clichés abound, not so much from the mafia-movie realm but that of the codger comedy, though probably only these particular oldsters would have no problem breaking into a pharmacy to steal Viagra and another drug for which, Walken complains, “my copay is insane.” Also: you can’t break into a car with a coat hanger anymore. Crime has passed these guys by. Director Fisher Stevens, working from a script by newbie Noah Haidle, creates an atmosphere of gloom that’s unexpectedly depressing for a comedy, muted 70s colors that are, I suppose, meant to harken back to what would have been his protagonists’ glory days — but to what end? More noteworthy for what it tries to do than for what it actually accomplishes, this is a film about which the best that can be said is that it’s never actively offensive in any way (umm, beyond one problematic bit) and has no great aims beyond being a passing amusement — it only ever truly springs to life when the very funny Lucy Punch (Bad Teacher) is onscreen, in a small but very intriguing role that makes you wish the movie was about her character. Still, Walken (A Late Quartet), Pacino (Righteous Kill), and Arkin (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) cannot help but ensure that this is worth a quick peek. Even phoning it in — on a rotary phone — they still earn their status as icons.

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