Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
“Let’s just drop the welcome home thing. So, who’s gonna do it?” “Do what?” “C’mon, you know what. Just tell me…it’s you, isn’t it? Just say it.” “It’s me.” That’s old-time criminal Val (Al Pacino) getting his best friend, Doc (Christopher Walken), to admit he’s the one who’s been sent to kill him in the crime comedy film Stand Up Guys.
After being in prison for 28 years for refusing to give up his crime buddies, Val is finally released and is met by Doc. The twosome set out on the town to celebrate and it’s not long into the reunion that Val confronts Doc on the real reason he’s there: to serve out the death sentence put on Val by an old semi-retired crime boss.
Resigned to his fate and not wanting to waste any more of the few precious hours he has left, Val and Doc set out to have the night of their lives. After visiting a brothel for some female companionship and stealing a local gangs’ new car, the guys decide to ‘rescue’ their old friend and ex-wheel man Hirsch (Alan Arkin) from a retirement home.
Together, the three old crooks continue their night of celebrating, with Doc becoming more and more resistant about his final assignment and questioning if he can really go through with it – even though if he doesn’t it means certain death for himself.
Funny, offbeat and quirky, Stand Up Guys is an enjoyable crime comedy in the same venue as the films Tough Guys and Going in Style. It has a stellar cast led wonderfully by Al Pacino as the old-time con who knows what his dark fate is but doesn’t want to think about it, let alone escape it, but just make the best of the time he has left. Christopher Walken does his classic deadpan as Doc, Val’s only friend who desperately wants to find a way out of his last assignment but doesn’t quite have the courage or the brains to come up with an exit strategy…or does he?
Alan Arkin is sadly underused as Hirsch, the ex-wheel man of all their capers together, and his adventure with Val and Doc ends all too quickly. (Note to all writers and directors in Hollywood: if you ever get lucky enough to cast Alan Arkin in your film and his role in the script is brief – rewrite and extend his character’s involvement in the action.)
Another weakness in the film is how repetitive it becomes with its locations. Two perfect examples of this are the three – yes that’s right, three – visits to the brothel and the three or is it four scenes at Doc’s favorite diner with his favorite waitress, Alex (Addison Timlin). What started off as being funny or sweet finally becomes tedious and flat.
Still, watching these three legends of the cinema portraying three washed up cons stealing cars, fighting young hoods, stealing prescription medication, and charming young ladies is sure to bring a smile and a few laughs from the audience.
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