Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Stand Up Guys (2012)

JohnnyTwoToes doesn't like this mediocre crime comedy and you'll know why

Stand Up Guys is a B grade scripted film but with an A list class of actors that disappeared from theaters as quickly as it appeared. Not surprised at all. What a waste of film this was. 

The film stars Christopher Walken as Doc who picks his friend, Val (Al Pacino) up from prison upon Val's release, and after a few drinks and some food, the question arises from Val, "Enough with the best friend bullshit. Who's gonna do me? Just answer the question, Doc. Is it you?" "Yea, it's me," Doc responds sadly. So they decide to live it up one last night before the deed is done. 

Claphands (Mark Margolis) is a mob boss who lost his son at the hands of Val as the result of an accident, but regardless Claphands wants Val dead. Since Doc owes Claphands a great deal of money, all will be forgiven once Val is given the dirt nap. Hence the conflict. What follows is a series of unfunny incidents and a comedy of errors ensues. The joke, as it turns out, is actually on us. 

Stand Up Guys is supposed to be about honor among thieves but there was nothing really interesting or even challenging about this film. It's directed by Fisher Stevens. Yes THAT same Fisher Stevens from Short Circuit and Hackers fame. He is a decent actor and might even be a decent director, however this is not that film. 

Stand Up Guys suffers from one cliche after another and the film sputters along on autopilot. These guys are past their prime (in the film) and so when Val gets out of prison the first place he wants to go is the local whorehouse and get some. The joke of this scene is he can't seem to get the blood flowing; lead in his pencil so to speak, so he takes some pills and REALLY gets going to the point he has to be taken to the hospital. I guess that was supposed to the punch line of that joke. 

It was not funny as is most of the film is not funny, instead there is scene after scene of recycled elements of far better films. David Mamet's Things Change with Don Ameche and Joe Mantegna from 1988 comes to mind as a great little film with a similar plot. Don Ameche played an innocent old gentleman who was asked to take the fall for a crime which he did not commit. The payoff was he would have a final weekend of doing whatever he wanted with the Mobs's money and live it up. Joe Mantegna was the enforcer who tags along to make sure Ameche has fun but shows up for prison when he is supposed to. That film was well written and the characters seemed like real people that we could know in our own lives. It was a sweet, sentimental and clever film. Stand Up Guys is sadly none of that. 

Noah Haidle's script is a mess with the guys parading around town making fools of themselves in one plot device after another that we seen all before. They throw in Hirsch (Alan Arkin) whom the guys bust out of an assisted living facility and what do they do? Steal a car! Wow how many times have we seen that done before? Oh and they drive really fast, too! Since Hirsch is only in the film a few scenes, his character is pretty much a throwaway.

You know you are in trouble when you start noticing how attractive the waitress is that waits on Val and Doc. There is a dancing scene that seems to have been lifted from another Al Pacino film (a much better film) Scent Of A Woman. Val tries to come on to a woman and at first, she throws a drink in his face for being a crude ass but then he is polite and they dance wonderfully together. In fact, the car stealing scene is also lifted from the same Al Pacino film. Julianna Margolis is thrown in for good measure as Hirsch's (Arkin) daughter who happens to work at the hospital that takes care of Val's erection problems. Nothing special about her character, either. The final scene where the guys try to settle up with Claphands is another shootout that is just plain tired. 

How many times do we have to sit though the same cliches? Can Hollywood not come up with anything fresh and inventive? Where is it written that when you get a little older limp penis jokes, gratuitous foul language and stale characters is suddenly funny? or when you get older you lose personality and are about as interesting as lint? About the only good element that works is the music. The score, by Lyle Workman is a good one, but the songs are fun and provide some much needed flair for this film. Jon Bon Jovi was asked to compose a couple of songs for this film and they are decent songs with "Not Running Anymore" getting nominated for Best Original Song at the 70th Golden Globe Awards. 

I never thought I would complain so much about a film that has Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin but frustratingly this film is lame, not funny or even remotely fresh. There is nothing 'stand up' about these guys. Stand Up Guys-* 1/2


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