Thursday, February 7, 2013

“Stand Up Guys” – Like a depraved bucket list.

Do you ever wonder if some movies are written specifically to feature certain actors? I’m not talking about movies where they had certain ideas of actors while writing the script; I’m talking about movies whose scripts already have names penciled in. On one hand, I really hope this isn’t true because it would mean auditions are just lip service and bullshit. On the other hand, it’s impossible not to think this happens more than we’d care to know after watching a movie like Stand Up Guys.

Stand Up Guys is about three old guys rekindling the good old days of when they were criminals together. Think about that for a second and try to guess which old actors would like to relive the days when they played hard-to-forget criminals or bad-asses. Wouldn’t your guesses have to be Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Robert De Niro? The only one you’d be wrong on (in this case, at least) is De Niro, as the guy making up the trio is Alan Arkin. However, even his character makes sense when you find out that he’s the driver of the group and doesn’t do guns. Heck, he even reminds Walken and Pacino of this fact when they offer him a gun.

Actually, I was being a little vague in describing the premise of the movie. It’s really about what Pacino wants to do his first night out of prison (after 28 years) and Walken funding the escapades while deciding whether or not to kill Pacino – his best friend. As we learn later in the film, Pacino takes the fall for a botched crime job in which their employer’s son dies and now that employer is forcing Walken to kill Pacino for revenge. This is easily the weakest part of the plot as we don’t get any more information than that about the botched job. No flashbacks, no narration, no story-telling to Arkin’s daughter (Julianna Margulies) or Walken’s granddaughter (Addison Timlin), nothing. If that’s not bad enough, their ex-employer is another old guy known as Claphands (Mark Margolis), which may be the dumbest crime boss name in history. But I digress.

As the film labors its way through the night, we’re treated to Pacino doing all the things he did as a young guy. Except, now he looks slightly better than a mall-Santa after a fourteen-hour shift and can’t get a boner. Seriously, he can’t. An entire sequence is spent on him going to a whore house, not pleasuring a Russian-accented hooker (Katheryn Winnick), breaking into a pharmacy with Walken to steal some Viagra (among other old guy drugs that Walken needs), eating a fistful of them, and going back to the whore house to complete the Viagra commercial. And that’s just the tip of the shenanigans.

After sex, food, and snorting crushed up hypertension pills while drinking hard liquor, Pacino is rushed to the hospital to drain the blood from his over-Viagra’d pecker. He recovers amazingly quickly for an old guy and decides they should go break Arkin out of the old-folks home. This leads to more shenanigans, including an ode to Office Space in which Arkin fulfills his lifelong wish of doing two girls at the same time. This actually happens, including the part where they ask him “what’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to do?” And yes, that same Russian hooker, in addition to her boss (Lucy Punch), oblige the old man. And in what has to be a direct insult to Pacino, does not need any medication to rock the two women.

This series of events is what passes for a plot, as the question of whether Walken will kill Pacino is rendered an afterthought. If this movie weren’t so much about indulging Pacino in a debauched kind of bucket list, we might have learned more about Walken and Arkin, or even the secondary characters, who are actually more interesting the main trio. At the very least it would have been nice to know more about the busted job that landed Pacino in prison. All we do know is that they are stand up guys for being loyal to each other, stealing a car for Arkin to relive his driving skills, rescuing a damsel in distress, and leaving an inheritance to a granddaughter.

Rating: Ask for seven dollars back. The film is supposed to be a comedy, and while there were some scattered chuckles, the film falls flat far too often while relying on tired old-guy jokes.

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