Stand Up Guys
dir Fisher Stevens
scr Noah Haidle
prd Sidney Kimmel, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Jim Tauber
with Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Julianna Margulies, Mark Margolis, Lucy Punch, Addison Timlin, Vanessa Ferlito, Katheryn Winnick, Bill Burr, Craig Sheffer, Yorgo Constantine
release US 1.Feb.13, UK 28.Jun.13
12/US Lionsgate 1h35
Stand Up Guys
Old pros: Walken, Arkin and Pacino

margulies margolis punch
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Stand Up Guys A messy script isn't enough to undermine these clever veteran actors, who manage to make the most of the humour, drama and action without ever losing their dignity. And in the end, we're surprised at how much they make us care about these guys.

When Val (Pacino) gets out of prison after 28 years, his only friend Doc (Walken) offers him a place to stay. But Val's not impressed by the humble apartment, and he wants Doc to abandon retirement and get back in the game. The problem is that the mobster Claphands (Margolis) has only let Doc stay alive to force him to kill Val in an act of revenge against both of them. Since their days are numbered, they collect their dying buddy Hirsch (Arkin) to have a bit of fun before time runs out.

The script plays on the usual ageing issues, including a now-requisite Viagra gag. Yes, much of the jokes centre on these old guys talking frankly about sex in an Apatow sort of way, which isn't remotely funny. And both the comedy and action set-pieces drag on far too long. Thankfully these three actors are geniuses, and manage to give add some zing to even the lamest dialog and situations.

Pacino plays Val like a hyperactive, misbehaving teen, chasing women and constantly plotting some sort of scam. Walken beautifully grounds Doc in his observant mannerisms and reactions. And in a smaller role, Arkin is a variation on his usual smart, funny character. The three have great chemistry together, finding both snappy comedy and a terrific combination of exhaustion and enthusiasm. Watching them come to life for their big caper, as silly as it may be, is thoroughly entertaining.

The film has an easy, bluesy vibe, moving at a geriatric pace through its gently free-wheeling story. These guys may be past their prime, but they want us to know that there's plenty of life in them. So director Stevens plays up the energy, making everything a little too madcap in the process. But he also leaves space for these experienced pros to make the most of the thin material. When things need to get emotional, brutal or even goofy, these actors are exhilarating to watch.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 30.Jan.13

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