Stand Up Guys, Kick-it One More Time (Film Review)



The film Stand Up Guys being released this weekend in theaters has a nice touch.  It brings together three of the most revered stars in film emulating some of their past acting gigs.  It’s a testimonial to their craft that puts them in front of a camera, aged and changed from their earlier Oscar winning performances yet still commanding the screen. The story brings out the best in each of the three with action, comedy and a murder or two.

Convicted killer Val (Al Pacino) gets picked up by his friend Doc (Christopher Walken) on his release from prison after serving 28 years of his sentence.  During that time he has never disclosed who was involved in a bank robbery gone badly, keeping his two best friends and the mob boss from being indicted for the crimes.  It’s his first day out and Doc wants him to enjoy it even if Val has the feeling that someone has put a hit out to keep him permanently quiet. But, Val has a plan, one that will include Hirsch (Alan Arkin) the third man in their caper trio who has long been waiting for that special moment he can also be free.  

Val (Pacino), Doc (Walken) and Hersh (Arkin) stop off at a brothel

The fun little film takes a few twists, goes over some bumps and comes up a winner.  The movie is touching, has a crazy chase scene and a chance to see three old men stand up to the mob with a scheme that shows you’re never done till you have lived again.  Doing what most other directors seem to have a problem, director Fisher Stevens takes the high profile actors and lets them be themselves.  After all the years of crooks, comedy, drama, suspense, and adventure, Stevens brings Pacino, Walken and Arkin together for the first time, and the result is fond memories and a great show. (Pacino and Arkin did appear together in the drama Glenn Gary Glenn Ross)

Doc and Val get their chance at a shoot-out with the mob

Pacino (Oscar winner Scent of Women) takes a break from hard drama and gives us Val filled with life on what he believes is his last day on earth.  He has been away a long time so most everything has changed with his two best friends Doc and Hirsch.  Inspired by the possibility that the three can get together for one last hurrah, it’s he who instigates “the plan”. Walken’s (Oscar winner The Deer Hunter) role of Doc finds him plagued with memories, but still working for the mob.  His life consists of making his choice of being a gangster or his morning breakfast with a young waitress at the local diner. There’s not much to look forward to, but that’s all going to end.  As for Hirsch (Arkin, Oscar winner Little Miss Sunshine), his son has set him up at a local rest home where he’s biding his time.  Longing for an opportunity to drive a fast getaway car once more with his best buddies, by participating Val’s plan he’s about to get his chance.

Stand Up Guys has been rated R by the MPAA for language, sexual content, violence and brief drug use. Mostly a comedy, the film has some brothel scenes that are hilarious, but still for adults only.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A fun film featuring some of my favorite good “bad guys”. (B)

Additional Film Information:

  • Cast: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin and Julianna Margulies
  • Directed by: Fisher Stevens
  • Genre: action, comedy, crime
  • MPAA Rating: Rated R for language, sexual content, violence and brief drug use
  • Running Time: 1 hr 33 min
  • Opening Date: February 1, 2013
  • Distributed by: Roadside Attractions


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