×

Stand Up Guys

Veering between buddy movie and action-thriller, "Stand Up Guys" is a mildly raunchy, modestly entertaining geriatric comedy starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin as retired gangsters who reunite for one last night on the town.

With:
Val - Al Pacino
Doc - Christopher Walken
Hirsch - Alan Arkin
Nina Hirsch - Julianna Margulies
Claphands - Mark Margolis
Wendy - Lucy Punch

Veering between buddy movie and action-thriller, “Stand Up Guys” is a mildly raunchy, modestly entertaining geriatric comedy starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin as retired gangsters who reunite for one last night on the town. Relying too heavily on jokes of the old-habits-die-hard and they-don’t-make-’em-like-they-used-to sort while incorporating conventions from and sendups of countless other pics, director Fisher Stevens’ talky, tongue-in-cheek feature is most likable when the main characters are simply playing off each other. Lionsgate’s January release will skew toward older auds and likely post its best numbers in ancillary.

Unspooling over a less-than-24-hour period during which time is of the essence, the plot revolves around whether Doc (Walken) will prove as much of a stand-up guy as his former best friend and partner in crime, Val (Pacino). Val served 28 years in prison for accidentally killing the son of crime boss Claphands (Mark Margolis), an incident in which he could have implicated Doc. Meanwhile, the still vengeful Claphands has ordered Doc to dispatch Val on the very day of his release on parole.

Happy to be free at last, Val just wants to party. Doc decides to indulge his pal for a spell, taking him to the brothel they used to frequent, only to find the madam has retired to Florida, leaving the business to her daughter (Lucy Punch). Val’s inability to get it up leads to a pharmacy break-in and some of the pic’s funniest moments, when Doc decides to stock up on medications with a high co-pay.

When Val needs treatment for a Viagra overdose, helmer Stevens even includes an “ER” joke as nurse Nina (Julianna Margulies) wheels him into the hospital. Nina happens to be the daughter of their former get-away driver, Hirsch (Arkin), whom the guys impetuously decide to rescue from his nursing home. Just as Doc and Val can still pick a lock and pack a powerful punch despite being advanced in years, so, too, can Hirsch still drive like an Indy champion; cue a high-speed car chase that feels as tired as the earlier priapism jokes.

First-time scribe Noah Haidle, known for his plays, gives the screenplay a circular structure, bringing the guys back to the brothel, Nina and Doc’s favorite diner so that longtime wishes may be fulfilled, tributes paid and secrets revealed. Although some of the dialogue is truly funny, the pic tends to over-milk situational humor, and a scene of unprovoked violence against a Korean storekeeper strikes a really wrong note.

A thesp and docu producer directing his second fiction feature (after 2002’s “Just a Kiss”), Stevens wisely lets the stars have fun mocking their own geezer-tude. Pacino gets the showiest role and attacks it with wild-eyed gusto; by contrast, it’s nice to see Walken as the restrained character for a change, although he’s able to work in his trademark jig. Arkin exhibits his usual flair in a smaller part. As the title suggests, it’s a man’s world, and the distaff perfs are nothing special.

Sharp-looking tech package is distinguished by Michael Grady’s darkly beautiful widescreen lensing, which lends some of the diner shots the look of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.” Reliable soundtrack includes original songs by Jon Bon Jovi.

Popular on Variety

Stand Up Guys

Production: A Lionsgate release presented with Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Lakeshore Entertainment of a Lionsgate, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Lakeshore Entertainment production. Produced by Kimmel, Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Jim Tauber. Executive producers, Eric Reid, Ted Gidlow, Bruce Toll, Bingham Ray, Matt Berenson. Directed by Fisher Stevens. Screenplay, Noah Haidle.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color, widescreen), Michael Grady; editor, Mark Livolsi; music, Lyle Workman; music supervisors, Brian McNelis, Eric Craig; production designer, Maher Ahmad; art director, Tom Taylor; set decorator, Kathy Lucas; costume designer, Lindsay Ann McKay; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Steve Morrow; supervising sound editors, Derek Vanderhorst, Mandell Winter; re-recording mixers, Leslie Shatz, Vanderhorst; special effects coordinator, Bart Dion; visual effects, Digital District, David Danesi; visual effects supervisor, Thomas Duval; assistant directors, Scott Robertson, Jonas Spaccarotelli; casting, Tricia Wood, Deborah Aquila. Reviewed at Chicago Film Festival (opener), Oct. 11, 2012. (Also in Mill Valley Film Festival.) Running time: 95 MIN.

With: Val - Al Pacino
Doc - Christopher Walken
Hirsch - Alan Arkin
Nina Hirsch - Julianna Margulies
Claphands - Mark Margolis
Wendy - Lucy Punch

More Film

  • Rita And Tom Hanks Coronavirus

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Return to U.S. After Coronavirus Diagnosis in Australia

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are back home in the U.S. after they revealed they had contracted coronavirus and were quarantined in Australia. Hanks gave an update on Twitter Saturday morning, thanking everyone who had helped them in Australia and assuring people that they are still isolating themselves in the U.S. “Hey, folks…We’re home now [...]

  • Film Comment Magazine Goes on Hiatus

    Film Comment Magazine to Go on Hiatus as Film at Lincoln Center Lays Off Half of Staff

    Many companies are being financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Film at Lincoln Center is the latest organization to have to lay off employees and pause some of their operations. On Friday, executive director Lesli Klainberg released a memo announcing that the center had to furlough or lay off about half of its [...]

  • "Birds of Prey" egg sandwich

    'Birds of Prey' Actor Bruno Oliver Recreates Harley Quinn's Famous Sandwich

    When actor Bruno Oliver booked the role of short order cook Sal in “Birds of Prey: (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” he had no idea how significant Sal and his breakfast sandwich were to the story. “You couldn’t tell from the audition necessarily and as actors, we always worry about our scenes [...]

  • Minyan

    'Minyan': Film Review

    Best known for the unexpectedly soul-shattering San Francisco suicide doc “The Bridge,” indie filmmaker Eric Steel came out and came of age in 1980s New York at a moment just before AIDS devastated the city’s gay community. Such timing must have been surreal, to assume something so liberating about one’s own identity, only to watch [...]

  • Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches

    Film New Roundup: Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches North American Distribution

    In today’s film news roundup, “The Queen’s Corgi” finds a home, the Overlook Film Festival is postponed and the California Film Commission adjusts its tax credit rules due to the coronavirus. ACQUISITION Freestyle Digital Media has acquired North American rights to the animated family comedy feature “The Queen’s Corgi,” and plans to make it available on DVD and to [...]

  • APA Logo

    APA Sets Salary Cuts and Furloughs in Wake of Covid-19 Pandemic

    Following in the steps of several agencies dealing with the coronavirus, APA has informed all offices of upcoming salary cuts along with possible suspensions and furloughs for employees due to the pandemic’s economic effect on the industry. APA board of directors will make the largest financial sacrifice. The move has been made to avoid layoffs [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content