Review: Weary 'Stand Up Guys' need to give it a rest

 Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin and Al Pacino, from left, star in 'Stand Up Guys.'

Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin and Al Pacino, from left, star in "Stand Up Guys."

Val is released from prison after serving 28 years for refusing to give up one of his close criminal associates. His best friend, Doc, is ...

Rating: R for language, sexual content, violence and brief drug use

Length: 93 minutes

Released: February 1, 2013 Limited

Cast: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Katheryn Winnick, Julianna Margulies, Mark Margolis

Director: Fisher Stevens

Writer: Noah Haidle

More info and showtimes »

Not every senior citizen passes his or her autumn years in dignity, surrounded by family, respected by the few peers they still have left in this world.

And if the retirees in question are grizzled mobsters, old "made men" who haven't been in "our thing" for years and years, the last thing they'd ever expect to be is dignified.

One might live in denial, straining to act out versions of their younger selves in defiance of the passage of time. Another might have, for all intents and purposes, "checked out" before he checks out.

And one might wear the weight of their years and the guilt of their deeds, hanging on almost out of remorse.

"Stand Up Guys" is about three aged stand-up guys, a "crew" that hasn't been a crew in almost 30 years. It has three comically charismatic Oscar winners in the lead roles — Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin — and a plot with room for comedy in it.

But the funereal tone is better suited to a picture with more gravitas than this Fisher Stevens film earns.

Pacino is Val, a mop-topped convict who gets out of a long stint in prison as the film opens.

Walken is Doc, his pal, loyal since the '70s, when Val went in. Doc is every inch the old man — a veritable recluse, painting, living in a dank apartment, visiting the same diner for every predictable meal.

But Val wants to party like it's 1979. Find a bar, find a brothel. That's not working out? Find some of this "new stuff" they've got now, Viagra.

It's meant to be a night "like the old days." But there's a mob boss who still has a grudge. One guy is supposed to kill the other.

Val and Doc get into a kerfuffle. They right a wrong, steal a car. They drag their old getaway driver (Alan Arkin) out of a nursing home — oxygen tank and all.

They reminisce. "Remember that time you threw that Greek out the hotel window?"

Walken brings a quiet dignity to Doc, a man of violence long reformed — "I'm retired. I'm serious."

But Pacino's Val ignores the entreaties of one and all to not embarrass himself. He does.

Arkin sparks the picture to life, acting his age AND being funny at it. And the addition of Julianna Margulies as the child of one "Stand Up Guy" and of Lucy Punch as the madam at the cut-rate brothel enlivens a few scenes.

But the central premise is a half-hearted retread. And the gags come from a score of earlier films and sitcoms.

Which is pretty much where these "Stand Up Guys" are stuck.

© 2013 Knoxville.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Already activated? Login