Combustible Celluloid
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With: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Julianna Margulies, Lucy Punch, Vanessa Ferlito, Katheryn Winnick, Addison Timlin, Mark Margolis
Written by: Noah Haidle
Directed by: Fisher Stevens
MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual content, violence and brief drug use
Running Time: 95
Date: 11/10/2012

Stand Up Guys (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Grumpy Old Goodfellas

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Stand Up Guys seems like a throwback to the 1990s, walking in the footsteps of both Pulp Fiction and Grumpy Old Men. But happily, director Fisher Stevens is a character actor himself, in addition to being an Oscar-winning producer (The Cove), and he lovingly coaxes relaxed, organic performances from these three great veterans. They have an easy chemistry together, and they actually seem to have years of history together. Their unspoken language and shorthand is perhaps even more effective than the scripted dialogue.

When Val (Al Pacino) is released from a long prison term, his old friend Doc (Christopher Walken) is there to pick him up. Unfortunately, Doc has an agenda. A crime boss has ordered Doc to kill Val as payback for an accidental murder committed years earlier. Val eventually figures out what Doc is up to, but they quietly decide to spend a final night on the town instead, going so far as to kidnap another old pal, Hirsch (Alan Arkin) from a rest home. As the night wears on, with eating, drinking, sleeping with prostitutes, smoking, stealing cars, getting into fights, etc., the question looms ever larger: what is Doc going to do?

The movie also develops a low-key tone, which downplays the very obvious gags, such as the overdose of Viagra, and all the "old guy vs. young guy" barbs. Many viewers will probably feel that the material is overall too slight to warrant much enthusiasm -- for example, it's nowhere near as sharp as Seven Psychopaths -- but for many others it will be an amiable time-waster, capable of producing many smiles.

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