×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Just Getting Started’

Ron Shelton's lame comedy is an utterly useless misfire that brings out the worst in all parties involved.

Director:
Ron Shelton
With:
Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, Rene Russo, Joe Pantoliano, Glenne Headly, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Elizabeth Ashley, George Wallace, Graham Beckel, Jane Seymour, Johnny Mathis.

Rated PG-13  1 hour 31 minutes

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5721088/

Some bad movies trigger swells of anger and outrage, while others prompt industrial-grade snark and scorn. And then there are leaden clunkers like “Just Getting Started” that provoke an ineffable sense of sadness as one considers how much time, money and talent has been squandered on something so thoroughly useless. Unduly protracted, clumsily contrived and dreadfully unamusing, this misbegotten project brings out the worst in all parties involved; even top-billed Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones and Rene Russo do little more than embarrass themselves here. It’s altogether apt that the film’s pro-forma theatrical exposure is a pre-Christmas dump (without, unsurprisingly, pre-release screenings for critics).

Freeman plays Duke, resident manager at Villa Capri, a Palm Springs retirement community where he breezily presides as equal parts cock of the walk and fox in the henhouse. To underscore Duke’s status as catnip for ladies of a certain age, writer-director Ron Shelton — who has come a very, very long way from the likes of “Bull Durham,” “Blaze” and “Tin Cup” — kicks off the proceedings with a jaw-droppingly lame sequence in which the silver-tongued devil trades suggestive quips with hot-to-trot retirees played by Glenne Headly and Sheryl Lee Ralph. It’s Yuletide season, so the characters are inspired to drop double entendres about “flocking trees” and … No, never mind, I’ll spare you the rest. Suffice it to say that, when the sequence concludes, you may find it difficult to unclench yourself from a discomforted cringe.

Unfortunately, things soon go further downhill. Jones arrives on the scene as Leo, a new community resident who makes vague references to a colorful backstory, possibly as a military or law-enforcement operative, and riles Duke by repeatedly (and successfully) challenging him at poker, golf and lady-chasing. Both men set their sights on Suzie (Russo), a corporate hatchet-woman assigned to investigate Duke’s blithely casual approach to standard business procedures while operating Villa Capri. Leo takes the early lead in the race to winning her affections, but Duke doggedly continues his own pursuit — until he is distracted by attempts on his life by perhaps persons unknown from his checkered past.

The late, great film critic Stanley Kauffmann once expressed his admiration for seasoned professionals who doubtless knew early on when they were stuck in a stinker, yet got out of bed every morning and arrived on the set to do their best. But it’s difficult to muster a similar esteem for the lead players here, given their tendency to try too hard, too obviously, to harvest laughs, or at least mild chuckles, from the barren ground Shelton has provided them. At best, they elicit, though only sporadically, a melancholy sympathy born of lingering respect for their previous work.

It should be noted, by the way, that “Just Getting Started” features one of the final performances by Headly, who passed away earlier this year. And that’s very sad, too.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Just Getting Started'

Reviewed at AMC Studio 30, Houston, Dec. 8, 2017. MPAA Rating: PG-13.

Production: A Broad Green Pictures release and presentation in association with Entertainment One Features of an Endurance Media/Gerber Pictures production. Producers: Bill Gerber, Steve Richards. Executive producers: Gabriel Hammond, Daniel Hammond.

Crew: Director, writer: Ron Shelton. Camera (color): Barry Peterson. Editor: Paul Seydor. Music: Alex Wurman.

With: Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, Rene Russo, Joe Pantoliano, Glenne Headly, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Elizabeth Ashley, George Wallace, Graham Beckel, Jane Seymour, Johnny Mathis.

More Film

  • Leonardo Dicaprio Once Upon a Time

    Leonardo DiCaprio's Earth Alliance Commits $5 Million to Amazon Fires

    Earth Alliance, an environmental initiative backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, has committed $5 million toward the preservation of the Amazon rain forest following an alarming surge in wildfires. After launching Sunday, the organization’s emergency Amazon Forest Fund is working to support local partners and indigenous communities in their efforts to protect the sensitive habitats within the [...]

  • (from left) Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson)

    Box Office: 'Hobbs & Shaw' Scores $102 Million Debut in China, Nears $600 Million Globally

    Universal’s “Hobbs & Shaw” returned to first place on the international box office charts, thanks to a massive $102 million debut in China. The “Fast & Furious” spinoff, starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, collected another $120 million overseas, boosting its foreign tally to $441 million. “Hobbs & Shaw” is nearing the $600 million mark [...]

  • Angel Has Fallen

    Box Office: 'Angel Has Fallen' Rises to No. 1 With $21 Million Debut

    “Angel Has Fallen,” the third chapter in Lionsgate and Millenium’s action franchise starring Gerard Butler, had a stronger opening weekend than expected, collecting $21.25 million during its first three days of release. Those ticket sales were enough to top domestic box office charts, bumping last weekend’s champ, Universal’s comedy “Good Boys,” to second place. Starring [...]

  • Amanda

    ‘Amanda’ Takes Home Best Int’l Film at 15th Sanfic

    SANTIAGO, Chile    French director Mikhael Hers’ “Amanda” scooped up the Best Int’l Film award Saturday (Aug. 24) at the 15th Santiago Int’l Film Fest (Sanfic), which reported a 20% audience uptick in the past two years and continues to grow its reputation as the most vibrant and prominent film festival in Latin America’s Southern [...]

  • disney d23

    Cruella, Kit Harington and Black Panther's Return: Everything We Learned at D23 Day Two

    Not to be outdone by the avalanche of series orders and casting announcements bolstering the new streaming series Disney Plus, Walt Disney Studios showed off its film wares in a marathon presentation at D23 on Saturday. The Anaheim, Calif. expo brought star power, if perhaps fewer surprises than Friday’s presentation, as fans in princess and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content