Going In Style (M, 96 mins)
Directed by Zach Braff
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Three likeable old geezers find themselves out of pocket through no fault of their own. The rapacious banks have done away with their pensions and now our arthritic but resolute gang of twinkly-wrinklies are going to man up and rob the joint. No one will get hurt and they will take only what they figure the bank owes them.
Throw in a few photogenic and sassy grandchildren, a dutifully concerned daughter and a couple of mates from the same age group who are happy to be paid for turning Alzheimer’s into something adorable to be laughed at.
Stir with a moderate budget, a decent cast and a director who knows not to go confusing the story by doing anything other than shooting the script in a safe-for-TV selection of mid shots and close-ups, and you have probably got yourself as sure-fire a commercial hit as it’s possible to predict.
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Ignoring for a moment that Going In Style is an alleged remake of a 1979 film (“alleged”, in that the 1979 original is a far darker film than the 2017 version could ever have got past a focus group) and I still feel like I have been watching this movie at least once every few years for the last decade. The British-made Golden Years trod exactly the same ground less than 12 months ago.
But, originality is overrated in this business and a story well-told will always stand up, even if we can guess at the entire plot of a film just by glancing at the poster.
Going in Style is as predictable as the sun coming up tomorrow. But Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin are all happy enough to dial in familiar versions of their trademark schticks. Caine pitches his Joe somewhere between The Italian Job and Harry Brown. It’s a greatest hits package, but still surprisingly effective. Freeman delivers the same brand of lugubrious avuncularism that’s been paying his bills for the last decade at least.
Coming off the bench for a very welcome cameo, Anne Margaret makes more than should really have been possible of the obligatory widow-with-the-glad-eye. And Christopher Lloyd is noticeably less successful in the aforementioned Alzheimer’s-for-laughs role.
Going In Style is only going to be around in the multiplex for a few weeks before it moves onto its natural home as 8.30pm TV fodder perfect for a quiet Saturday night in. The film comes ready-made for small screen playback.
For its amiability, its gold-plated cast and for the fact the brief-ish 96-minute running time meant the film never quite outstayed its welcome, I’m giving Going In Style a pass. In a year or two, when the same plot gets rolled out again, you will be struggling to remember that you’ve ever even seen it. But for now, Going In Style is a pleasant enough and determinedly inoffensive diversion.