Thursday, February 7, 2013
You can't teach an old dog new tricks, and why should you, when the old tricks work as well as they do in Stand Up Guys? The pleasure of watching three veteran actors do what they do best is its own reward in this wistful crime comedy from director Fisher Stevens.
Plotwise, it may look like nothing special, but the combined one-two-three punch of co-stars Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin turn it into an entertaining, funny, and surprisingly moving morality play on aging, friendship, and what it means to do the right thing.
Scripted by rookie Noah Haidle, Stand Up Guys begins at the end of a 28-year prison term for small-time crook Valentine (Pacino). Val went up the river for his part in a robbery organized by a mob boss called Claphands, whose son was killed in the resulting shootout. Val is proud of the fact that throughout his incarceration, he never ratted on the organization he was working for.
On the day he's released, Val is met by his oldest (and only) friend, Doc (Walken), who takes him home to his small, cluttered apartment in a shabby part of town. Doc claims he's retired; he gets up early to paint sunrises (his little canvases cover the walls), and watches cable TV at night. But we soon discover there's one more job Doc has to do—he's been ordered by Claphands to kill Val by 10 o'clock the next morning. And it doesn't take long for Val to figure it out too.
What follows is a picaresque, all-night odyssey. (Read the complete review in this week's Good Times.)