Stand Up Guys (2012) (R)

The glory days—ah yes, those days of the past that we all wish that we could return to. The glory days are the bond that holds the three men of "Stand Up Guys" together.
The title might suggest a war of two rival comedians, destined for a hilarious battle on stage for The Golden Mike, the most prestigious award for stand-up comedy. Alas, no such tale lies within. "Stand Up Guys" is about the aforementioned glory days and how they affect us.
In the opening sequence we see two men—Doc and Val. Val is just being released from prison and he meets Doc at the gate. The two share an awkward embrace and then go back to Doc's place. Val is a little high-strung. His body is in a constant state of motion, he can't sit still for too long—and he has a voracious appetite. Doc is more of a meditated man, he knows his limits and he enjoys staying within them.
These men have a history, their glory days are filled with thievery and crimes. Both Doc and Val were the criminals of yesteryear and popping back into the swing of things is much harder than you would imagine.
"Stand Up Guys" enjoys playing with the notion of nostalgia. Each of the characters in the movie have at least one line that goes something like: "Remember that time that...." Then they laugh or sit silent in their memory and then the movie continues.
At first, this movie was detestable, the lines were weak and the story was even less strong. When you have such a great cast that's so small in numbers (Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, and Alan Arkin) I thought it would be better just to see the men sit around the table and talk...they're all so good that they could make it work.
And the plot of the movie is simple, simple enough to let certain events unfold that border on boring. Yet...the movie gets better as the reels change.
This is one movie that I changed my mind about—I really didn't like it in the beginning and I thought that that feeling would carry to the end, not so.
I began to empathize with the characters and found myself actually caring about what happened to each one of them.
"Stand Up Guys" is a mixture of pure crime and drama with a splash of humor. The beginning section fails because the jokes fail. But once the movie has warmed up the jokes get better, the delivery is more crystal, and the film gains a sense of direction.
When you have three mammoth actors like Walken, Pacino, and Arkin; you don't need much to make the movie a success. Indeed, not much was done.
The camera shots are simple and the music is just one song after the other, yet the bare form of the movie is the most appealing to watch. I'm not sure of any other way this movie could have worked.
It's not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination; but entertaining, yes. Enthralling, maybe not. Effective, yes.
The ending shot is one of restraint and dignity, and just so eloquent that it iced an overcooked cake and made you forget that it was burned.

Score: 2 and a half stars out of 4

1 comment:

  1. I agree that this movie was slow to start, however, in retrospect I feel like it was necessary to make you empathize with the characters. Each is quirky in their own way, and because the quirks are just subtle enough to be believable, it takes time to convey that to the viewer. I found myself truly feeling for the characters much more than I thought that I would and relating to their unique chemistry as best friends. Pacino and Walken were simply magnificent, I can imagine no way in which they could have been better. Also, it is interesting how they subtly portray the goodness of their characters even though they are criminals. I was snickering throughout and extremely concerned at the end, which I agree, was perfection.

    My Irrelevant Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4