Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin are as funny and curmudgeonly in Stand Up Guys as Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were in their iconic films together. This movie follows three old timers who still want to puff out their chests and do what they did best in the old days. And that involves pulling off heists and working with “or against” the mob.
Doc’s (Christopher Walken) best friend Val (Al Pacino) is finally getting out of the joint after 28 years for not cooperating with the cops. Doc picks Val up when he’s released and takes him back to his tiny apartment. In a matter of minutes Val rattles off to Doc what a dive it is, picking apart one element after another. They finally decide to go out for a bite to eat, and Doc drives Val to his regular restaurant where his favorite young waitress, Alex (Addison Timlin), takes care of him.
While Doc seems quiet and settled, Val appears ready to party. Because he has many years to make up for, Val insists they do it all in one night. Doc has a secret he can’t tell Val, but feels beholden to his friend to do whatever he wants. So they get booze and drugs, find a weird brothel and hit the night clubs. When Val confronts a group of women, something he says makes one of them throw her drink on him. But when Val reveals to her where he’s been and asks her for one dance, she agrees. It’s a special, appealing moment that stands out in this film.
Pacino, Walken, Katheryn Winnick, Arkin
When Val suffers an incident having to do with Viagra, he ends up at a hospital. It’s nurse Nina (Julianna Margulies) who takes care of him. She also remembers them as her father’s buddies and tells Val and Doc that Hirsch (Arkin) is in a care facility. The guys head out and literally sneak him out in the middle of the night, leaving his oxygen behind. Hirsch is excited to get his favorite job back – getaway driver. So the three buddies take off like a hurricane doing things bad guys do but trying to stay away from the mobster boss (Mark Margolis) who’s hunting them down. In addition to the film’s crime drama elements, there’s a sweetness to this story – like a swarm of bees finally finding their honey.
The script by first time screenwriter Noah Haidle hits all the right points in this story, and Director Fisher Stevens serves the screenplay well keeping the laughs coming and the pace moving. The audience knows the secret that Doc wants to keep from Val, which makes the anticipation high throughout the film.
This cast was well chosen. Pacino’s character is rough around the edges and eager to make up in one night what he’s missed in 28 years, and Pacino plays every moment perfectly. Walken, a favorite of so many moviegoers, consistently entertains. He can say more with a blank look or a smile just daring to break out while standing perfectly still than most Oscar-nominated actors. Arkin – recently nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting role in Argo – is always right-on with his portrayals.
In the screening of Stand Up Guys that I attended, the audience laughed all the way through and applauded at the end. It’s a fun movie that offers a great chance to see three iconic actors – who never worked together before – reminding us Hollywood doesn’t turn out many films like this anymore.
Photo Credits: Saeed Adyani / Roadhouse Attraction