Friday, 14 April 2017

Review: Going In Style

Going In Style
Cert: 12A / 96 mins / Dir. Zach Braff / Trailer

Come back awards-season, all is forgiven. Here to usher out the end of the cinematic graveyard shift is the latest offering from Zach Braff, somewhat ironically dragging his directorial career in precisely the opposite direction. I can't work out what's more insulting: that this weak, formulaic comedy is a straight mashup of Tower Heist and Last Vegas, or that it's actually a re-imagining of an existing film. Either option is lazy and both are insulting to the audience and industry alike.

So, in the midst of their twilight years, three grumpy old cynics decide to demean themselves by committing an offence in order to get the vast amounts of money they feel is rightly owed to them… and that's also the plot of the film!!*1 For ninety-six laborious minutes, there are jokes about belligerence and the aches/pains of getting old, the thoroughly insincere disapproval of the capitalist status quo*2, and lashings of self-indulgent forced-nostalgia and mawkishness. You've seen this shit a hundred times before, and it probably wasn't even better then, either.

Haha, it's funny because the old men are grumpy!

Normally I'd say that a cast this strong should know better. The problem is, I don't think that's the case, here. With Alan Arkin effectively phoning-in his role from Stand Up Guys, Morgan Freeman having recently partaken in Lucy, Transcendence and Ted 2, and Michael Caine being the kind of actor who routinely appears in guff like The Last Witch Hunter, there's a strong chance that this comfortably paid barrel-scraping is now the default setting for these guys. Christopher Lloyd also embarrasses his legacy in a background role; then again he's doing stuff like Piranha 3D in the 21st century, so that's no real surprise. Collectively, the film feels like the death-rattle of a creature that stopped caring long, long ago.

Haha, it's funny because the old man puts a tin of hot dogs down the front of his pants!

In the film's defence, it had amassed a reasonable-sized audience*3 for a weeknight showing, and they laughed with startling regularity. But they were also hooting through lines which were demonstrably Not Jokes™. I suspect this could have been some sort of autosuggestion-response to going out to see what had been marketed as a comedy film. "I am determined to laugh loudly and enjoy myself throughout, refusing to consciously admit that I have been sold a banger".

Haha, it's funny because there's an old lady and she gets a shock and says the fuck-word!

Everyone's allowed the occasional slip of course, but Warner Bros have put out this film and C.H.i.P.s. in the same quarter. At the rate things are going, I expect Gazza to turn up at 3400 Riverside Drive with some chicken and a fishing rod before the end of June...

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Last Vegas. Tower Heist.
Pretty much any Warner Bros/Universal comedy of the last ten years

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
No you should not.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
No it does not.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Well it's directed by the guy who made Wish I Was Here, and stars people from The Shawshank Redemption, Argo, Get Carter and Back To The Future, so what do you think?

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I. Just. Might.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: The original voice of Darth Maul is in this.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Yes, I am hilarious, thank you. Although that is funnier than anything in the film, I promise. I smiled once during this, when there was a puppy on-screen (I'm not a complete monster). Although I didn't smile when the same puppy was brought back later. What the hell kind of film hardens its own audience into puppy-fatigue? [ BACK ]

*2 Y'know, that same capitalist system without which the film wouldn't have been financed or made, nor would there be a room-full of people shedding their disposable income to watch the result. The only things this film rebels against are thoughts of cinematic creativity. [ BACK ]

*3 Although it's noting that this studio-comedy was preceded with trailers for no other comedy films. Instead we got the promo-reels for Dunkirk, Their Finest, Rules Don't Apply, The Sense of an Ending and The Promise. Even accounting for the varying scales of those, they're all period-pieces and 'fogey-flicks'. The UK distributors of Going In Style clearly think that no-one in the audience is going to be under age 50. Although after looking around, they weren't too far off the mark, admittedly… [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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