Going in Style a Passably Harmless Comedy Remake
After their pensions are stolen by both the multinational corporation that’s merged with their former employer as well as the bank overseeing the outsourcing of all current jobs overseas, retired steelworkers Joe (Michael Caine), Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Albert (Alan Arkin) have officially had enough. After a little back and forth about the merits of the idea, this trio has come to the conclusion they’re going to get what’s owed them, every cent of it. They’re going to rob a bank, and not just any bank, mind you, but the very one that’s conspired with their former employer’s new owner to snag their pensions, making them geriatric Robin Hoods looking to redistribute wealth to those who they feel truly need it.
Based on the fondly remembered 1979 film of the same name written and directed by Martin Brest that starred George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg, Going in Style is about as harmless a comedy as any likely to be released in 2017. Directed by Zach Braff (Garden State) and featuring a reworked script written by recent Oscar nominee Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures), the movie is an easygoing romp that goes through its familiar motions with confidence and energy. It’s a fun enough affair while one is in the moment sitting in the theatre, but none of it is exactly memorable, not a single second, and unlike the original film this one is more than content to keep things on a relatively emotionally nondescript playing field that’s honestly rather dull.
Nonetheless, even though none of them are stretching their thespian muscles all that demonstrably, Caine, Freeman and Arkin still make a winning trio. Their interactions with one another are authentic and believable, their jokey rapport having a naturalistic cadence that’s easy to fall in synch with. Ann-Margret and John Ortiz both lend able support, as does talented youngster Joey King, each having their own little moment to shine, adding their own bit of idiosyncratic spunk to the proceedings in an ineradicably charming way.
But the movie is never as clever as it felt like it wanted to be, the heist itself a relatively tame and tedious exercise in sound, fury and misdirection that’s nowhere near as interesting, funny or suspenseful as it should have been. There’s a perfunctory precision to Joe, Willie and Albert’s plan that’s frankly boring, while a climactic twist and concerns the consequences of their actions lands with a tiresomely melodramatic thud. I also despised a character portrayed by Christopher Lloyd, the comic relief he is supposed to supply neither funny or amusing, the whole nature of the role a mean-spirited misuse of a great actor that I found slightly maddening as well as angrily insulting. It should also be noted the Matt Dillon is wasted in a thankless role as the lead FBI investigator working high profile bank robberies, but he’s not so much bad as he is given precious little of substance to do.
It’s still hard to get angry at Going in Style for any of its more obvious missteps. Equally so, it’s also difficult to get too excited about any of its more entrancing moments or scenes. As decent as the core cast might be, as solid as some of the various character moments where we get to know the core principals in greater detail undeniably are, the simple truth is the Melfi’s script isn’t digging all that deeply and Braff’s direction doesn’t take a single risk. It’s a nice movie, but also an exceedingly safe one, and as such spending any more time than this handful of paragraphs to review just isn’t worth the effort it would take to compose another sentence.
Film Rating: 2½ (out of 4)