Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Stand Up Guys [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

I knew I was gonna watch this a few weeks ago now from the first trailer I saw from it. Christopher Walken, Al Pachino and Alan Arkin are three of the best actors or all time. So getting them together for Stand Up Guys was like an All-Star Game. While not the most enthralling movie, the three give great performances and it's one of the few decent enough movies of 2013 so far.

Stand Up Guys follows the story of Val and his partner Doc (Al Pachino and Christopher Walken). Val has just gotten out of prison after spending the last twenty plus years in there after taking a fall. Doc picks him up from jail under the job tasked to him by Claphands (Mark Margolis) and must kill him immediately. Not wanting to just up and do it just yet, Doc gives Val till the next morning, before he does the deed. From hijacking a car with a kidnapped woman in the trunk, Sylvia (Vanessa Ferlito), to rescuing an old friend, Richard Hirsch (Alan Arkin), from a nursing home, the trio go out on the town. Val takes too many Viagra to sleep with woman at a "whore house" run by Wendy (Lucy Punch) and then has to go to the hospital where Richard's daughter Nina (Juliana Margulies) works. The last night of what Val presumes to be his last night alive, becomes a crazy ride that in which the three do more living than most do in their entire lives. 

Fisher Stevens has done is fair share of acting over the years, and a few directing jobs to boot, but this seemed to be a challenge at times. While a lot of the time the faults fall to a director if the movies is bad, the writers and producers have just as much to do with a movie. Noah Haide wrote a tale of two half movies here. There was a lot of out of place comedy with Pachino in the first half. With the second half settling into a much better action-comedy hybrid involving all three of the leads. That being said, the writing goes along with that thought. The story is pretty good, but it crippled by a ton of early scenes that leave you wondering why they're even there. But once you get past that a nice story with a decent ending occurs. The characters are pretty good I guess, though there's only a few you really can get into. Doc is a lighthearted man that only wants to do right by both his job and friends. While Val is is a man who has just got out of prison and wants to have a good time before his untimely, yet scheduled, demise. With Richard, Wendy, Nina and Alex providing some great, but smaller, supporting and leading characters.

The acting is pretty solid, being lead by the duo of Al Pachino and Christopher Walken, with Walken giving one of my favorite performances. Al Pachnio is soiled by the early goings where he has a lot of weird comedy. As well as scenes where you'd never think you'd see him doing bits. He does pick-up a lot once Vanessa Fertilo, Alan Arkin and Addison Tomlin enter the mix, and the character comes into his own. Christopher Walken carries this movie though as Doc. You see glimpses of true friendship, leadership and emotion poured out in this performance. Scenes with his granddaughter in the diner as well as ones with Richard and Val there are great scenes. Those scenes throughout made this this one viewing I have given it, worth it for me. Alan Arkin comes in and is a great comedic role for the middle part of the movie. With Juliana Margulies playing a good supporting role, a very nice surprise from Addison Tomlin and some decent comedy from Lucy Punch. To round this out the action, when it came to it, was pretty cool. From hand to hand combat and shootouts, to middle of the night car-chases and shake-downs, the action in this isn't just thrown in for no apparent reason. The comedy in this is pretty good too, and when Walken or Arkin hit their strides, it's some laugh out loud stuff.

If this seems like it hasn't been my most inspired looking review, it's cause it's hard to get too excited over a film that doesn't live up to it's potential. I went into Stand Up Guys hoping for a great movie led by the likes of Al Pachino and Christopher Walken. But it ended up being more of a mess that settles into itself. I love crime films and the comedy genre is probably my favorite of all time. But this is a mix of unneeded scenes, with a story that, while good, doesn't really kick in till the middle portion of the movie. Only average direction on the part of Fisher Stevens and lackluster writing (at times) from Noah Haide equates to a movie worth a watch. But not really one good enough if you wanna go revisit it.

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