Good and holy mother of dog, I was looking forward to seeing this movie. I don’t really think I need to justify my reasons, but I’ll state them anyway, in order: Pacino, Walken, Arkin. Old guys! The best guys! The guys we all do impressions of! The best actors in the business. Come on. Stand Up Guys, in my eyes, was going to be the best film of the year. Obviously.
It wasn’t though. I’m not the first to say this. It was terrible, and almost painfully so. The script was so empty, so devoid of wit and punch, that I was truly amazed these three dudes signed on for it. Maybe they wanted a last hurrah of some sort, no matter the cost (which is actually sort of the plot of the movie, go figure), but its utter lack of grace was appalling. Each sentence they uttered should not have come from seventysomethings. In theory, maybe, thirtysomethings, but most of the sentence structure was too generic for any one demographic to stake claim over it. Of course, the three amigos being pros and all that, they sold their lines as best they could, but I can’t imagine it was easy. Or maybe it was too easy, and I was fooled by their cool demeanor. Maybe they just phoned this whole thing in.
The premise here is that Val (Al) and Doc (Walk) are besties, and Doc comes to pick up Val from being in jail for half his life, and Val wants to go on a hardcore bender and have a great time because he knows that Doc is eventually going to kill him. Turns out, half a lifetime ago, Val killed Mr. Shickadance‘s kid, and he wants Val dead, and he ordered Doc to do it. Because they did this for a living or whatever. So, Val and Doc proceed on this bender, picking up their old driver Hirsch (Ark) from the nursing home and proceeding to bang hookers, take drugs, cross paths with a looming Bill Burr every once in awhile, and hang out at this one diner a whole lot within a span of about 18 hours. Though the diner scenes were a bit much, particularly because I’m pretty sure Val orders a steak every damn time he’s in there, which would have killed him even without the drugs, they did provide the setting for the more meaningful interactions of the movie, which were between Doc and his granddaughter, Alex (Addison Timlin), who is adorable. Between Alex and and Sylvia (Vanessa Ferlito) and Wendy (Lucy Punch) and the lineup of other young females strewn about this movie, unknowns got more screen time with three legends than they’ll ever know what to do with, and they all actually handled it beautifully. They put up with all the sexist bullshit, and yet they had complete control over all of the bullshit, too. Timlin was particularly sincere, and her storyline with Doc was borderline sentimental, as their grandfather-granddaughter relationship wasn’t fully realized until the end of the movie anyway. I’d have said spoiler alert, but you would have already seen this movie by now if you really wanted to. Don’t worry about it.
So, of course this thing culminates in a big shoot-em-up finale, which seems absurd, but it’s totally fine. This is a bad movie, but it’s enjoyable if you enjoy the trifecta, because their presences alone up the ante. Even though they’re spouting generic one-liners (and one truly genius comedic spat about bees and dicks, just trust me), they still manage to tug at your heartstrings a tiny bit and make you think about mortality and time limits and living life to the fullest and all that. Or maybe it was just me. What can I say? I had a great time watching this awful movie. Maybe you will, too.