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Going In Style movie review: No comedy for old men

Ranjan Crasta | Updated on: 7 April 2017, 19:27 IST

Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, and Morgan Freeman are probably three of the most beloved older actors in Hollywood. Unfortunately, that only makes the travesty that is Going In Style that much worse.

When the trailer dropped, the sight of Arkin, Caine, and Freeman robbing a bank seemed closer to an Saturday Night Live sketch rather than an actual movie. However, the drug problem in Hollywood must be out of control, because some movie executive actually looked at the idea and thought it was worth throwing money at.

Not content with just wasting the talent of three fabulous actors on a plot that was doomed from its very conception, the film also enlists the extremely talented Zach Braff as director, in the hopes that his directorial skill could somehow polish this turd of a film.

Alzheimer's & dementia do not a comedy make

The film is based around three senior citizens – Al (Arkin), Joe (Caine), and Willie (Freeman), who lose their pensions after their former employer colludes with their bank. In their quest for justice, the three decide to rob the bank that cheated them.

In addition to their shared motivation of having been cheated, each man also has his own reasons: Caine's house, that he shares with his daughter and granddaughter, is being foreclosed; Freeman's kidney is failing; and Arkin just needs the excitement.

As a result we get a comedy predicated on how old age is a thing. And it just isn't funny.

Now, plenty of older comedians make fun of the problems that come with getting older, and quite successfully at that. The humour though, stems from the fact that the comedian is poking fun at his own lived experiences. However, when you just watch a group of senior citizens experience these problems, even on film, it isn't really funny. In fact, it can get a little uncomfortable.

Sure, a joke about bad knees, or a bad back, could work once or twice. But this is a movie that is essentially about watching old people struggle with being old, with only the faintest sense of humour thrown in to lessen the awkwardness. Dementia, senility, and deafness are all used as fodder for the most obvious and unoriginal jokes.

Forced humour

When the humour isn't derived from struggles with ageing, it is squeezed from putting the elderly in awkward situations. In one scene, Caine and Freeman smoke a joint and talk about munchies, while in another, Caine and Freeman try to flee security guards on a mobility scooter. Once again, all the sort of things you'd imagine from a Saturday Night Live sketch, rather than a feature film.

Arkin isn't spared either, his awkward premise is sex, because isn't it funny that the elderly have a libido? It really isn't, but the movie seems to think it is. As a result we have a reference to Arkin getting it on every few minutes, just in case we didn't get the joke the first time.

What's sad is that the three men could probably have been funnier if they were just left alone in a room together with the cameras rolling. Each man has personality, wit, and charm, as they've displayed hundreds of times through the years. Sadly, the movie lacks the ambition to harness this, instead ending up a sad montage of three fantastic actors being elderly and fragile.

Should you see it?

Not really. If you're a fan of any or all of these actors, you'd be better off not seeing them like this. The movie is boring, predictable, and just not worth it, and even Caine, Morgan, and Arkin are no match for such a lacklustre premise.

Rating: 1.5/5

First published: 7 April 2017, 18:02 IST