Stand Up Guys

Directed By: Fisher Stevens

Starring: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Julianna Margulies, Mark Margolis, Katheryn Winnick, Vanessa Ferlito, Addison Timlin, and Lucy Punch

Al Pacino is my favorite actor in all of film history.  He is the consummate performer on the big screen, the small screen, and stage.  If you say Pacino is in something, I'm watching whatever it is.  It doesn't matter whether he's playing Michael Corleone, Sonny Wortzik, or even Joe Paterno.  I'm down with Pacino.  When you add greats like Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin to the mix, things should only get better.  That's why it pains me to say that Stand Up Guys, Pacino's collaboration with these two veteran actors, sucks.

After 28 years in the slammer, Valentine ("Val") (Pacino) has been released from prison.  He's a real stand up guy because he never ratted anyone out during his three decades in prison.  In a simple job that went sideways, Val became the fall guy.  During that job, Val accidentally killed crime boss Claphands's (Mark Margolis) son.  A coldhearted bastard, Claphands has never forgiven him for this sin and is looking to exact vengeance some decades later.

Upon leaving prison, Val is greeted by his best friend Doc (Walken), the one guy who never forgot him.  After getting a taste of Doc's boring life, Val insists that they go out and have a good time.  They go find some liquor, ladies, and food.  The partying is not enough though, and Val wants to get a taste of the old days, the high life.  That's why they steal a car and rescue their friend Hirsch (Arkin) from the nursing home in which he's rotting.  Then, they go and have some real fun.  All the while, Doc has been contracted by Claphands to kill Val, and he must do so by tomorrow morning.  Otherwise, Val won't be the only old gangster with a threat to his life.

Stand Up Guys has an incredible pool of acting talent.  With Pacino, Walken, and Arkin, it has a dream team of acting royalty.  Each of these veteran performers shows us why they're considered screen legends with some shining moments in the film.  Al Pacino is a natural-born criminal on the big screen no matter how old he gets, and he is clearly in his element.  With his character's paintings of sunshine and frequent visits to the diner, Christopher Walken is one funny dude mired in routine.  Despite the fact that his character is afflicted with emphysema, Alan Arkin puts the pedal to the metal like he's Ryan Gosling in Drive.  All in all, these old timers have definitely still got it.  Nonetheless, their performances are not enough to save Stand Up Guys.

"What time is it?  It's time to kick ass or chew gum".  This cheesy line embodies everything that's wrong with Stand Up Guys.  Screenwriter Noah Haidle has put together a stale, wandering mess that's not worthy of his cast.  Haidle offers only a muddled story with corny one-liners and cheap jokes.  When the great Al Pacino is in a simplistic comedic arc about a long-lasting erection, something has gone terribly awry.  With this awful screenplay from Haidle, I have no idea how this impressive trio of veteran actors ended up in the movie.  What’s worse is that director Fisher Stevens actually tries to bring it to life.

Stevens really drops the ball in this failed crime comedy.  Instead of letting his ultra-talented cast just go for it and light up the big screen, Stevens more often than not tries to mold the characters and their storylines into his sad vision of a comedy about old criminals.  With some terribly depressing soundtrack selections, unnecessarily dark cinematography, and an awfully slow pace, Stevens takes away any joy his cast brings to the big screen in Stand Up Guys.

Stand Up Guys just doesn't deliver despite being a showcase for some of the world's finest actors.  It once again demonstrates that a movie is more than its actors.  It has to have solid writing and solid direction.  Otherwise it won't get the job done.  Stand Up Guys gets a 0.09% rating.  Have a few glasses of brandy with this one.