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Going In Style

Going In Style

Released 7 April 2017
Director Zach Braff

Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Ann Margret, Joey King, John Ortiz, Peter Serafinowicz, Kenan Thompson, Christopher Lloyd
Writer(s) Theodore Melfi
Producer(s) Donald De Line
Origin United States
Running Time 96 minutes
Genre Comedy, crime
Rating 12A

This is a (walking) stick up!

The auspices for Going in Style were mixed to say the least. On the one hand, the cast is impressive (I have a particular soft spot for Alan Arkin) and screenwriter Theodore Melfi was recently nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for his work on Hidden Figures. On the other, having struggled through Dirty Grandpa and Last Vegas, I could do without seeing any more of Hollywood’s elder statesmen “growing old disgracefully.” Plus it opens with one of those excruciating comedy scores that signal wacky behaviour with jaunty pizzicato strings and whistling – never a good sign. The film is also something of a mixed bag, veering between nicely observed moments between the characters and ill-advised dollops of broad comedy.

Going in Style follows three steadfast friends, who met while working in the steel industry. Joe (Michael Caine), Albert (Alan Arkin) and Willie (Morgan Freeman), enjoy a simple life, until their company pension is cancelled and the banks come knocking. Coincidentally, on a recent trip to the bank to sort out his finances, Joe gets caught up in a raid. The criminals get away with it, leading Joe to think that just maybe he, Willie and Albert can do the very same. The hapless trio hook up with a local criminal (John Ortiz) and plan the heist of their lives.

Everything about Going in Style is completely competent – from the script, to Zach Braff’s direction, to the performances. However the film runs into a little trouble when it comes to its tone, which is an uneasy mixture of comedy and drama. To its credit, the film has the occasional moment of real pathos, as three hard-working men find themselves in deep financial trouble at a time when they should be enjoying their lives. The leads handle this excellently and I was surprised at how much I liked the trio and invested in their story. It was a shame therefore, that the mood is repeatedly broken by cliché gags that bring the film right back down to Dirty Grandpa territory;  surely it’s time for a moratorium on sequences during which straight laced characters get accidentally stoned.

Still, the film does seem to have its heart in the right place and despite straining for laughs, it’s an inoffensive and moderately diverting way to pass an afternoon.

- Linda O’Brien