Going in Style (2017)

 

Released: April 7, 2017. Directed by: Zach Braff. Starring: Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin. Runtime: 1h 36 min. 

Joe (Michael Caine), Willy (Morgan Freeman) and Albert (Alan Arkin) are retired, lifelong friends who are losing their pension after the company they worked for is bought out. To make matters worse, Joe’s in danger of losing his home because of a mortgage payment plan he was sold.

He discusses that with a sleazy banker (John Pais) in the film’s first scene, and it’s saved from being boring thanks to a funny bank robbery.

If Joe loses his home, he, his daughter Rachel (Maria Dizzia) and granddaughter Brooklyn (Joey King) will be homeless within 30 days. He rallies Willy and Albert to rob a bank so he can save his home and stick it to the banks. They figure they’ll take what would have been theirs in pension payment, and at the tail end of their lives – they don’t have much to lose and they’re going out in style.

Surprisingly, Going in Style doesn’t actually have a lot of style. It’s basic filmmaking and the direction’s unremarkable. This is Zach Braff’s third film (at the biggest budget of $25 million), but it doesn’t have the quirkiness of his writing featured in his first two films Garden State and Wish I Was Here. The film’s written by Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures), based on the 1979 film of the same name. The writing’s formulaic at best.

It’s a predictable caper but it’s so heartfelt and enjoyable. Its heart is always in the right place and it’s a benign tale about loving life and making the best of everything, no matter your age.

It’s also very funny, too, and the cast have great comedic timing and make the best jokes hit their mark. The best part of the film is having Caine, Freeman and Arkin share the screen. Their presence is what makes it special, even this isn’t as good as it should be – like the way that it’s great at the time but it’s forgettable.

Trio, hands raised

Alan Arkin, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine in Going in Style. (Source)

Still, they’re so charming and they help make this a good time at the movies. Their chemistry is great, and you can feel like these guys have been friends their entire lives. They’re all mostly the same age, but their development feels diverse, especially in terms of motivation for the robbery.

Joe’s motivation is pure since he’s trying to provide for his family. His friendship with granddaughter Brooklyn (Joey King) is sweet and one of the reasons I was most invested in Joe. Brooklyn’s really the only family of the trio that have a good role – and even Joe’s daughter could be written out entirely since she’s there for two scenes.

Willy’s motivation is so he can have enough money to see his family more than once a year. Albert’s the curmudgeonly guy of the group – suiting his delivery – and he’s content being alone. The bachelor gives into the heist because he’s tired of being broke. He also meets a new lady, Annie, who gives charisma to his development – and she’s played by the delightful Ann-Margret.

Its third act has some clever moments inside and outside of the heist, and the training they get from a criminal insider (John Ortiz) is fun. Though, it could benefit from more action.

It’s understandable that there isn’t since they’re a trio of good guys who don’t want to hurt anyone. It sucks out some excitement out of the heist – even though it still feels tense. It’s nice that there’s two heists and the main one is fun – but the one at the beginning is funnier.

I liked that they’re trying to rob a bank at a geriatric age and it makes for a different sort-of heist caper. It has low-speed chases instead of high-speed chases, like when they have a practice theft at a grocery store and hijack an old lady’s motorized shopping cart. It’s one of the funnier moments, and it’s scenes like these when you know it doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s better for it.

Score: 70/100

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Piranha DD (2012)

Piranha DDPiranha DD

Release Date: June 1, 2012

Director: John Gulager

Stars: Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, David Koechner

Runtime: 83 min

Tagline: Double the action. Double the terror. Double the D’s.

Piranha DD is serious garbage. One can notice this as soon as the camera starts rolling: there’s women dancing, in a news report for the chaos caused at Lake Victoria, then there’s an underwater camera through an underground cave, all the way to a new lake where two fishermen are walking through the swamp, and they find something that has eggs being laid or something like that, I really couldn’t tell what the hell was going on, all I know it was weird and not at all scary. Then all the sudden there’s Gary Busey biting a baby piranha’s head off and it’s very odd.

Then the real story begins, where the prehistoric hungry piranhas are going to attack one of Arizona’s biggest attractions, The Big Wet Water Park. Oh and, surprise surprise, there’s an adult pool there, where women are allowed to swim naked, and if you have double D’s, you get to swim free! One part-owner of the park is fairly strict, the young and beautiful Maddy (Danielle Panabaker) who unfortunately refused to take off her bikini, as did the supporting Katrina Bowden (well, she does, but we don’t see anything). But the other part-owner, Chet (David Koechner) is vastly irresponsible as he replaces qualified lifeguards with strippers and David Hasselhoff in order to produce maximum profit, and he to save money, he also gets his water from a local well, unknowingly inviting piranhas to swim free, as well as the Double D gals.

This sequel to Piranha is a little less bloody, a bit more disgusting, and it has more nudity. I think. There’s at least more pointless slow-motion sequences, and a decapitated head somehow motorboats a stripper’s double D’s for whatever pointless reason. It’s seriously just boobs and piranhas, and the entertainment is simply not there. Why produce a film like this? Do they think their target audience hasn’t heard of internet porn or the first film? It’s a pointless sequel that sets up a third film.

The writers try to put campy horror in there for viewers before the finale, but the scares and laughs are little to none. It’s just piranhas gnawing their teeth and trying to look intimidating. And one kind-of “kill” is very disgusting, and not because of the piranha, but because of the guy’s action. It’s ridiculous. It also is not rewarding in the slightest. Some characters’ motivations don’t make any sense, like one action that the deputy does. If you don’t mind, I’ll tell you one action of his, but I’ll be as discrete as possible. One person is in the pool during the “finale” begging to get out, but for some reason that doesn’t make a lick of sense, he abandons because he’s too stressed out. Why? How does that contribute to the film? Uh! Some of this is just so pointless! Don’t ask me why I watched it, because I really couldn’t tell you! It’s seventy-one minutes of agony!

The finale when the piranhas attack isn’t even good. It’s supposed to be the best part of the film, it’s why people watch this garbage. Instead, it lasts fifteen minutes, maybe. The lead-up to it is too long, and when the so-called chaos does arrive, it isn’t rewarding in the slightest. The bloopers almost felt longer than that scene.

The filmmakers remade an apparent great horror film with the first, and it was mediocre at best. However, they come up with this horrendous sequel. Why? Just because the James Cameron-directed sequel, Piranha Part II: The Spawning is apparently very bad, does not mean you have to make an awful sequel to a mediocre first outing.

I was never for a minute scared, and I might have laughed three times at sophmoric jokes (Christopher Lloyd commenting that his video is more popular than a Laughing Diarrhea Baby on Youtube, Hasselhoff calling a kid a “little ginger moron” [even though it gets tedious after a while] and he doing a kind-of parody of his Baywatch days). It’s really just garbage. The redeeming qualities are limited to Ving Rhames’ just okay cameo, Christopher Lloyd’s also just-okay cameo, Panabaker being her attractive self, one character being killed by a trident to the head (it’s seriously awesome!) and David Hasselhoff who kind-of poorly plays himself. He has a few funny lines, and it’s somewhat silly when he’s so surprised that some kid thinks he’s just another life guard. There’s a line about the film (but I think it’s really about his career), where he says, “Welcome to rock bottom.” Yes man, welcome yourself to the bottom of the barrel, this movie is crap.You’re not the most popular star like you think you are, but you could probably nab a threesome.

12/100

Celebrity Birthdays: October 22 – 28

Christopher Lloyd (October 22). Happy 74th birthday to the great Christopher Lloyd, who is best known for his role as Dr. Emmett Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy. I still have to see that series… He is also well known for his role as the main antagonist, Judge Doom, in the 1989 animation/live action feature Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Sam Raimi (October 23). Happy 53rd birthday to Sam Raimi, who has directed great trilogies like The Evil Dead and Spider-Man. I still have to see Evil Dead, but it seems really awesome.

Ang Lee (October 23). Happy 58th birthday to Ang Lee, director of such great films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain. I haven’t seen anything by Lee, but I just want to tell you guys to check out his upcoming film Life of Pi, that comes to theatres November 21.

Craig Robinson (October 25). Happy 41st birthday to Craig Robinson, who has brought his great comedy styling to such films as Pineapple Express, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Hot Tub Time Machine, and TV’s The Office.

Seth MacFarlane (October 26). Happy 39th birthday to Seth MacFarlane, creator of animation comedy shows such as the great Family Guy, the okay American Dad! and the horrible (except for its theme song) The Cleveland Show. He made his live action feature film debut this year with Ted, which is now the top world-wide grossing R-rated comedy of all time. He’s also going to be hosting the Oscar’s honouring films of the 2012 year.

Other Birthdays: Oct. 23, Ryan Reynolds (36); Dwight Yoakam (56). Oct. 24, Tila Tequila (31). Oct. 26, Dylan McDermott (51); Bob Hoskins (70), Jon Heder (35). Oct. 28, Joaquin Phoenix (38); Julia Roberts (45); Joan Plowright (83).

My favourite Christopher Lloyd films: Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The PagemasterDennis the Menace

Favourite Craig Robinson films: Hot Tub Time Machine Pineapple ExpressZack and Miri Make a Porno

Favourite Dwight Yoakam film: Panic Room.