Stand Up Guys (2012) / Comedy-Thriller

MPAA rated: R for language, sexual content, violence and brief drug use
Length: 95 min.

Cast: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Juliana Margulies, Lucy Punch, Mark Margolis, Addison Timlin, Vanessa Ferlito
Director: Fisher Stevens
Screenplay: Noah Haidle
Review published January 19, 2013

Stand Up Guys 2012Stand Up Guys begins with a scene of a man named Valentine (Pacino, Ocean's Thirteen), now an old man, finally being released from a 28-year stint in prison and picked up by the only friend he knows who can pick him up, his longtime partner in crime, Doc (Walken, Seven Psychopaths).  Unbeknownst to Val, Doc has been dreading this day since the day he found himself behind bars, as a powerful crime boss named Claphands (Margolis, Black Swan), whose son died in the shootout that resulted in the cops nabbing the gang, not only demands Val to be killed the day of his release as retribution, but has coerced Doc to do the deed.

Directed almost lifelessly by actor Fisher Stevens (Just a Kiss), from a trite and DOA screenplay by first-timer Noah Haidle, Stand Up Guys is one of those films that casts tough old actors reliving their hey-days going out to do what they once did best.  Thoroughly predictable, and often painfully contrived, straining to squeeze out any laugh it can, it is material that falls far beneath actors in the caliber of Pacino, Walken, and Arkin (Argo, The Change-Up), the latter two of which look like they'd just rather collect their paycheck and be done with the experience.

Jokes abound regarding Val wanting to do all of the things he had been missing while locked up in the pen, most notably getting laid and going out to have a good time with the ladies.  As we're dealing with geriatric characters, the inevitable 'boner pill' gag comes into play, something which Val knows nothing about, as he pops a 'fistful' of the things and ends up, in a particularly awful scene, in a hospital ER with an erection that defiantly will not subside.  Even the film's supposedly clever catchphrase, "It's time to kick ass and chew gum, and I'm all out of gum," is an old one, having been done in the 1990s in the videogame 'Duke Nukem 3D', and, most prominently, in the 1980s in trailers, ads and the movie for John Carpenter's They Live.

In one of the film's many contrivances, it just so happens that the on-call nurse during the priapism, Nina (Margulies, Snakes on a Plane), is the daughter of their old crony Hirsch, who served as their getaway driver in the days of bank heists.  The two men go to a nursing home to visit their pal, who must have been waiting for the day that he can be sprung because they exchange no more than two sentences before he is out the door and behind the wheel of the hot muscle car that Val ends up stealing that had the door left open (another contrivance) and the key to start it left in the car (yet another). 

The worst scenes in the film involve Val and Doc visiting Nina to discuss something that happened with her father.  The initial scene is played without any sense of truth, as the actors labor to seem genuine having to mouth lines meant to be cute but have no sense of the delicacy and emotion of the moment.  A follow-up scene is even more stiff and awkward, and we have to watch Nina actually thanking(!) the criminals for dragging her father from the care of his nursery home to commit crimes and live recklessly.

Even at 95 minutes, the pace crawls.  It feels creaky, musty, and without authenticity.   Die-hard fans of the stars may be more forgiving than this review, but will probably admit that their favorite screen icons deserve much better material than this.  With uninspiring direction and a screenplay of full of genre clichés, the oldest things about this vehicle surrounding geriatric criminals are the ideas injected into it.  Someone should be locked up for a waste of such a talented cast.
Qwipster's rating:  

©2013 Vince Leo