Director: Zach Braff Starring: Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, Joey King, Ann-Margret, Christopher Lloyd Synopsis: Desperate to pay the bills and come through for their loved ones, three lifelong pals risk it all by embarking on a daring bid to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money (source: IMDb). Rating: PG-13
Hollywood remakes have gotten a bad rap the last couple years and understandably so. Largely, their existence is justified through brand recognition rather than social application. Going in Style, a contemporary take on the 1979 Martin Brest film of the same name, is stuck somewhere in between.
Thematically, this senior-centered heist comedy has aged relatively well. Caine, Freeman, and Arkin play three life-long pals who, in their old age, decide to rob their bank as payback for leaving them virtually penniless after their employer outsources their jobs. And though desperation drives these men past the point of absurdity for comedic sake, at its core this is an unfortunate reality for far too many Americans. Fortunately, Director Zach Braff (I know, right!?) acknowledges this and makes a point to highlight the dire impact this has not only on our three protagonists but also their loved ones, though a few scenes feel out of place and almost forced as if to make the point as clear as possible.
While spry thematically, Going in Style struggles to keep up in the story department. As they themselves point out, these men are not criminals. I never bought them as bank robbers, even while they were robbing a bank. This becomes especially troubling when you consider the security-tight world we and presumably these characters now live in. It doesn’t help that Braff himself seems to acknowledge these narrative setbacks by practically skipping over the transition from doddery gentlemen into legitimate crooks with a five-minute montage featuring John Ortiz as the obligatory mentor/master thief.
Speaking of John Ortiz, Going in Style reinforces some pretty negative, outdated stereotypes about race and gender. Ortiz himself is a walking, talking trope with a perplexingly inconsistent accent. Of course the drug stupored mastermind behind the heist is a hard edged Latino with a soft spot for cute animals. Likewise, Kenan Thompson makes a particularly offensive run as the quintessential wise-cracking African American security guard. Ann-Margret disappoints as one of the horniest grandmothers in cinema whose only goal throughout the film is to seduce and sleep with Alan Arkin’s character. It’s a shame too seeing is how the script was penned by Theodore Melfi off the heels of Hidden Figures, a film about the furthering of opportunities for women and minorities.
Thankfully most of the film’s runtime is spent on the three leads and their chemistry is positively heartwarming. I couldn’t help but smile every time they lovingly poked fun at each other’s aging state or when they would embrace for legitimate displays of affection. Even when some of the broader slapstick fell flat (and it often does), I was immediately won back over by the trio’s charm, proving that just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s not in style.
Anyone plan on checking out Going in Style this weekend? If so, let us know your thoughts in the comment section!