Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Stand Up Guys

Good day, everyone. Welcome to my first official entry in my new blog. Today I'm going to review a film that has been on the backburner for a while for me, 2012's Stand Up Guys. I remember my dad giving the DVD of the film to me on my birthday, I think. It wasn't my last birthday, though. Probably was the one before that. 

Anyway, the reason I haven't watched it until now was because I really wasn't sure if I'd like it. Much like why I've been putting off reading another Dean Koontz book, I have been shying away from recent Al Pacino movies. Al Pacino is one of my favorite actors, but he has been phoning it in lately like its nobody's business. I tried watching 88 Minutes the other day and it felt like I was reliving the mediocrity of Righteous Kill all over again. I really hope Jon Avnet and Al Pacino never cross paths again. 

However, today I decided I was going to watch Stand Up Guys. Why? Well, I just can't not watch an Al Pacino film. Plus Christopher Walken was in it, too. Of course, that didn't mean jack for Gigli, but it really is different this time around. 

Stand Up Guys is a very solid flick with a very good cast. The writing and dialog at time is kinda meh at times, but the screen presence of Pacino, Walken, and eventually Alan Arkin is more than enough to keep this film buoyed and the atmosphere light. 

But if you want to watch this film then I strongly suggest that you don't go into it expecting a shootout or a gangster film in the vein of the ones like in Pacino's heyday. 

This film is a character piece, first and foremost. There's almost no action in this movie at all. There are certainly some scenes, but in those scenes you'll see it isn't really about the action as much as it is the characters. For the most part, anyway. 

After serving a prison sentence of 28 years, Val (Pacino) finally gets released from prison and gets picked up by his old buddy Doc (Walken). Doc has unwillingly been assigned the duty of killing Val by a mob boss, but Doc decides to give Val one last hurrah. Eventually, Val finds out but that doesn't really change the situation or anything. The fact remains that Doc still has to kill Val, but Val decides that if he's going to bite the dust then he's going to have the time of his life before he does. 

This film describes itself as a bit of a comedy and while it will give you a few chuckles (especially the erectile dysfunction bit), I think it's just a bit too melancholy and depressing to be a "real" comedy. If nothing else, this film has a strong "slice of life" aspect about it. Sure, these guys are former gangsters reliving their glory days, but the approach taken with this film is a very down to earth one that makes it markedly different from your average gangster flick (although you could say this is an average gangster flick and be right about that to a degree). 

I'd say that Stand Up Guys has more in common with The Wrestler than Carlito's Way.  

Of course, Stand Up Guys is not a great film and you'll notice while you watch it. You'll wonder what a better director and scriptwriter could have done with the excellent cast, but there's more than enough good things about the movie to keep it from being a bad movie or even a mediocre one. It is decent. Good, even. 

I definitely think the ending pissed a lot of people off, though. I really wasn't surprised the movie ended the way it did because the movie was never about the action in the first place. I don't have much of a problem with how it ended. 

Would I recommend this film? Well, I don't know who I'd recommend it to. No one unfamiliar with Pacino, Walken, or Arkin will probably watch this film. Those are familiar with them will probably watch it and immediately decide they don't like it since it isn't as good as The Godfather or The Deer Hunter

So while this film is watchable, I don't think there is much of an audience for it. Unless you are like me and are willingly to watch just about anything. 

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