“The Bucket List,” “Last Vegas” and now this: the unofficial “Morgan Freeman is Getting Old So He Does Crazy Things before He Dies” trilogy is now complete.
“Going in Style” is a remake of the 1979 film of the same same and stars Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin as three retirees who plan to rob a bank after their pensions get cancelled. Matt Dillon and Ann-Margret also star as Zach Braff (yes, the one from “Scrubs”) directs.
It’s rare, but you know it when you see it: a film that is exactly what its trailer makes it out to appear. This film’s trailer painted a light-hearted, by-the-numbers spring romp aimed at the 50+ crowd and it delivers exactly that. I was the youngest person in my theater by at least 20 years but everyone in that room was eating up what the film dished out; and if lack of twists and originality don’t bother you, then you’ll likely do the same.
Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine shared a screen together in Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, as well as in last year’s “Now Your See Me 2” (I still protest they missed a golden opportunity by not calling it “Now You Don’t”), so at this point in their careers they’re likely done chasing Oscar nominations and are just having fun. Alan Arkin has never really chased awards, and even in his Academy Award winning acceptance speech for “Little Miss Sunshine” he acknowledged he wasn’t shooting for trophies with his performance. Seeing the three legends (I feel it’s safe to bestow that title on them) interacting here brings some joy within itself and the trio all give solid performances, even though Caine is really the only one with a fleshed out backstory and Freeman and Arkin are pretty much playing themselves. Matt Dillon offers a few chuckles as the FBI investigator, too, and I adore Christopher Lloyd so seeing him in anything is always a treat.
I have to say this, because I have a platform to do so: Joey King, a Zach Braff favorite and who here plays Caine’s granddaughter, is an unbearable actress. I find every role she has, whether it’s a Roland Emmerich disaster film or ducking from demons in “The Conjuring,” as pretentious and unlikable and she’s no different here. “Another day, another A” she says to Michael Caine while handing him an exam, before reminding him he owes her a puppy (all while sporting a fake British accent). Ugh.
The script by Theodore Melfi, who is coming off two-Oscar nominations for writing and producing “Hidden Figures,” doesn’t try anything new himself, either. Just like with “Figures” and his debut film “St. Vincent,” he writes cliché stories that try nothing new, but his ability to create characters we care for and insert bits of clever dialogue here and there are to be commended.
The film may play it too safe for some people’s liking and the grand heist isn’t as grand as it could/should have been, but a film like this is more about the journey, not the destination. Braff and Melfi pull any possible punches, but if you go in knowing this then there’s little to complain about.
“Going in Style” isn’t hilarious, but it will thoroughly please every person who saw the ads, poster or cast and said “that looks fun.” The senior members of my audience were having a (relatable?) blast and even my 20-something self found enough in here to recommend. And given the current state of the world, maybe a simple chuckle and familiarity is a good thing.
Critics Rating: 7/10