Freeman, Arkin, and Caine Are Grumpy Old Bank Robbers In “Going In Style”
By Scott Kurland
Film: Going In Style
Starring: Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, Matt Dillion, John Ortiz, Joey King, Peter Serafinowicz, and Anne-Margret
Director: Zach Braff
I miss the 90s. I miss M.C. Hammer’s puffy pants, the “Do The Bart-Man” dance, and most importantly, the resurgence of Jack Lemon and Walter Mathau in “Grumpy Old Men,” “Out To Sea,” “Grumpier Old Men, “ and let us not forget that awful-but-enjoyable-sequel to “The Odd Couple.” What made these films great is how harmless they were. Would they win Oscars? Absolutely not. Were they fun? Yes. This weeks film is “Going In Style,” a new film from Zach Braff starring Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin as the new Mathau and Lemon. Let’s find out if it’s any good shall we?
“Going In Style” is the story of three retirees: Joe, Willie, and Albert (Caine, Freeman, and Arkin). The film itself opens with Joe as his trip to the bank is suddenly interrupted by a robbery. His experience is set aside, at least until he and his two friends discover that the steel factory they worked for is being purchased by a new company and their own bank is the one absolving the assets (i.e. their pensions). Out of desperation, Joe begins setting his own brilliant plan into motion, one that will put his traumatic experience at the bank to good use. With the help of his co-conspirators Willie and Albert, Joe will attempt to rob the bank that robbed them. Will these geriatric amateurs be able to pull of the heist of their lives? Or, will their first criminal endeavor end in a prison sentence?
Let me start this off by saying that, although I enjoyed “Going In Style,” this is a very flawed remake. The original “Going In Style” starred George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg. That film was also the debut of Martin Brest, the man responsible for “Midnight Run” and “Scent of A Woman.”
Back in the 70's, the idea of elderly bank robbers seemed ludicrous, hence why the original film was more comical. Today, this premise seems less far fetched. That’s the charm of this remake. Zach Braff directs Theodore Melfi’s script with a combination of humor and urgency. This is Braff’s third outing as a film director, and although “Going In Style” is not the generational masterpiece that “Garden State” was, its on the same level as Braff’s Sophomore film “Wish I Was Here.”
“Going In Style” has a lot of heart, but there's far too many old guy jokes in this film, hence why I compared this to the 90's work of Lemon and Matthau. With that said, I’m glad that Braff was able to show less of the humor and more of the genius of the plan that turned out to be the three lead’s heist. The right alibi can make a film go from good to great. Was this heist “Heat” or “Dark Knight” worthy? No, but it was like watching an “Ocean’s 11” film because of the level of ingenuity that went into this robbery. What made me really enjoy “Going In Style” are the performances of Arkin, Caine, and Freeman. Actually, if I'm being completely honest, it’s Alan Arkin exchanging jabs with the men who played Alfred Pennyworth and God. What’s not to love? As a cinema icon, Michael Caine is believable in the role of the criminal mastermind he clearly has a lot of fun in the role that was made famous by the late great George Burns. Freeman on the other hand, is Morgan freaking Freeman. As I’ve stated in many reviews of his films before, I would pay to watch him read the phone book and probably see it twice in theaters and once in IMAX-that’s how much I adore Morgan Freeman. Of the three leads, Freeman’s Willie was my favorite. His character originally died in the 1970's film and how they address that in this film is quite clever.
Is “Going In Style” the best film of 2017? No, but it’s a lot of fun and took me back to my youth of watching elderly movie stars pull off great gags and look cool doing it. If you want a nice light comedy to get you through April, see “Going In Style.” It has a lot of heart and Braff’s direction is an added bonus.
Review Rating: B