Grandpa Jokes: Our Review of ‘Going In Style’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - April 07, 2017
Grandpa Jokes: Our Review of ‘Going In Style’

There’s something to be said about remaking a movie that most people had forgotten even existed.  While Going In Style is an unquestionably DUMB affair, it is fully aware of that and it leans into its goofy tone and charm with knowing aplomb.

Lifelong buddies Willie (Morgan Freeman), Joe (Michael Caine) and Al (Alan Arkin) have hit hard times, their pensions have dried up due to corporate restructuring and their bank is looking to foreclose Joe house.  Fed up of being kicked to the curb, they decide to buck retirement and step off the straight-and-narrow path that they have been on their entire lives.   Desperate to pay the bills and with really nothing to lose, these friends risk it all by embarking on a daring bid to knock off the very bank that is ruining their lives.

Don’t get me wrong, Going In Style is far from high art; it’s as close to cinematic pabulum that I’ve seen in quite some time, but sometimes that’s OK.  It’s a film that knows what it is, doesn’t aspire for anything more and still manages to generate some legitimate laughs throughout most of the movie, even when they come from a place that is pretty darn corny.

Director Zach Braff working in a rare ‘director for hire’ mode gives the entire proceedings a safe 1980’s feel and tone to it all.  While some of the montages and editing were a little sloppy he does get the story where it needs to go in a fairly efficient fashion.  He’s basically making something that he himself would have watched on TV in his formative years and while he may never have a full grasp on crafting something truly visual and memorable that he himself didn’t create from scratch, he still gets the job done.  Meanwhile the writing from Theodore Melfi feels in par with the material, not necessarily pulling any direct influences from the original that was written and directed by Martin Brest but still keeping the essence of this story about three friends who are simply stuck out of time and fighting against being rendered obsolete.  It’s a movie filled with universal themes that are fairly easy to hit and since neither Braff nor Melfi aim for too much above the middle on this one, they hit the mark with a fair bit of ease and it serves as a reminder that sometimes cute and fairly predictable are OK when it comes to entertainment.

The ensemble cast spearheaded by Caine has no allusions to what they are doing.  They are here to earn a paycheck and make a lighthearted and entertaining little romp; the movie doesn’t aspire to any sort of grand social illusions and lets us get engaged with the characters themselves.  Caine along with Freeman and Arkin basically carry the movie with their god given charm, acting chops and comedic timing.  Any other mixture of actors this age and the entire film could have been an unequivocal dumpster fire, but with these three guys it actually all plays out pretty organically.  Supporting players like Matt Dillon, Ann-Margaret, Joey King, John Ortiz, Kenan Thompson, Christopher Lloyd and Peter Serafinowicz don’t really get all that much to do, they add just enough to keep it all chugging along.

When all is said and done, Going In Style will be your grandmother/father/elderly relative’s favorite film of 2017 and if you are willing to go along on with this safe and silly ride, there isn’t a damn thing wrong with that.

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David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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