Stand Up Guys (2013)

Stand Up GuysReleased: February 1, 2013. Directed by: Fisher Stevens. Starring: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin. Runtime: 95 min.

On paper, this seems like a great success. It stars veteran actors Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin, working together in a crime comedy that sounds pretty good. The story follows Val (Pacino), who, after spending 28 years in prison, is released and spends time with his best friend Doc (Walken). Little does he know, but later figures out going out on a whim, that Doc is asked to kill Val by a mob boss called Claphands (Mark Margolis) whose only son was killed in a robbery, and it could have been Val’s bullet. And someone has to take the blame. All we know is that Val took the fall for everyone 28 years ago and didn’t snitch. He did his time and jail, and that all makes him a stand up guy.

On paper and translated to the screen are two different things. On the screen, it’s bad; it’s a movie so unrewarding, I grunted throughout the end credits. It’s usually seriously boring, made sometimes okay by a good soundtrack and Walken’s signature dancing. This only has about five chuckles to offer, but it has a few sweet scenes. A scene featuring Pacino dancing with a pretty young thing is random, but sweet. All the jokes involving Viagra, however, are not. There are so many Viagra jokes! We get it, these guys are old, but the film feels very juvenile.

The old folks want to do some living before they die, which could be tomorrow, so they also “kidnap” their old friend Hirsch (Arkin) from a hospice (that doesn’t have particularly good security because they literally walk in and out, what if one of these old folks just wandered off?) and take him out for a night on the town in a car stolen from a few gangsters. That sub-plot gets handled oddly. This is essentially The Bucket List with a few more bullets, busted kneecaps and a lot less laughs.

The thing is, the simplistic plot isn’t that interesting, at least the way it gets handled. The drama tries hard to be sweet and garner any sort-of emotional reaction from the viewer, but it only works to some avail occasionally, but hardly consistently. This is just very boring. There’s a lot of time spent in a residential whorehouse that features a prostitute who’s supposed to be Russian but the only foreign dialogue she speaks is actually Ukrainian; but at least it allows us to see Lucy Punch who’s usually decent. It might have been much funnier seeing her portray the Russian prostitute.

There are also too many warehouse sequences, one of which feels like it ends before it really gets going. They go by this diner a lot; where there’s a waitress who’s the most sincere, cheerful and kindest soul in the film. The character’s name is Alex, portrayed by Addison Timlin, whose beauty and charm injects some desperately needed warmth and energy into this film. She’s one of the only good characters in the feature (at least that care about) and this minor character feels like she gets more character development than Arkin’s Hirsch.

The rest of the actors are well-cast as unremarkable characters. I think both Pacino and Walken show they can still bring it and be strong actors even when they seem to be phoning it in at times, and make the best out of a crappy screenplay. They act well, save one scene at a hospital (the second visit) that is played for comedy but it feels so insensitive that it should have taken a different tonal route. It just isn’t a believable character exchange, and because of that it feels empty. You might know which scene I’m talking about if you see this.

Walken’s character is a lonely guy, and that’s his main development. He’s an artist who paints sunsets; so that’s a nice muse. His and Val’s mutual motivations are not to get whacked, but considering all the steaks Val eats, I think his cholesterol is going to kill him first. Val’s character could get more development with an arc where he’s not used to the drastic changes of the outside world after 28 years in jail. He doesn’t look affected in the slightest, and he seems used to his surroundings. Almost thirty years is a long while, so it’s just a bit unrealistic how well he adjusts to everything.

The character can use all the layers he can get, because he isn’t compelling otherwise. Hirsch is also not that great because we never really know much about him other than he wants to have a threesome before he dies and he was the driver back in the day; but the character just feels like he was wedged in there because who wants to leave Arkin out of this opportunity?

The three actors have a good chemistry, but what does a decent bond do when the formula isn’t all there? Nothing really, they’re just left to flounder in a true stinker of a movie. Walken’s Doc should have just shot Val when he was passed out. It would have saved me a lot of time.

Score38/100

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Warm Bodies Scares Away the Competition (February 1-3 Box Office Results)

"I'm da winner zombie!"

“I’m da winner zombie!”

Warm Bodies opened to a great $20.3 million on the Superbowl weekend, and it’s also a really good film. Stand Up Guys opened to $1.5 million at 659 theaters, which is pretty decent. However, Sly proves that this is not a good year for solo outings for The Expendables co-stars. Arnie’s vehicle, The Last Stand, only grossed $6.2 million in its opening weekend; and Jason Statham’s vehicle, Parker, only grossed $7 million in its opening weekend.  Click the title for my review.

Top 10 Box Office, The Results (Estimates)

My Prediction/Off by (Over/Under)

1. Warm Bodies*$20, 353, 967

– $18, 700, 000$1, 653, 967 under

*Review will be up on Friday

2. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters$9,423,274

– $12, 400, 000$2, 976, 726 over

3.  Silver Linings Playbook$7,738,058

– $7, 650, 000$88, 058 under

4. Mama: $6,590,970

– $5, 620, 000$970, 970 under

5. Zero Dark Thirty$5,176,428

– $5, 530, 000$353, 572 over

6. Bullet to the Head$4,548,201

– $9, 200, 000$4, 651, 799 over

7. Parker$3,302,415

– $4, 065, 000$762, 585 over

8. Django Unchained: $3,002,769

– $2, 920, 000$82, 769 under

9. Les Misérables: $2,420,885

– N/A.

10. Lincoln$2,402,224

– N/A.

Other predictions

15. Movie 43$1, 641, 849

– $1, 970, 000$328, 151 over

18. Stand Up Guys$1,486,390

– $2, 000, 000$513, 610 over

New releases total difference: $6, 819, 376

Holdovers total difference: $5, 562, 831

Zombies Will (Probably) Devour Stallone, Elderly in a Crime Comedy, and the Rest of the Competition

The new releases

Bullet to the Head

Bullet to the Head

Stand Up Guys

Stand Up Guys

Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies

 

 

 

 

This weekend, there are three new releases coming along: the zombie-love story, Warm Bodies; Stallone’s new vehicle, Bullet to the Head; and a limited release of Stand Up Guys, where Alan Arkin, Al Pacino and Christopher Walken team up for a crime comedy.

Sylvester Stallone is breaking off from his The Expendables series for a solo outing with Bullet to the Head. Here, Stallone plays a hit man situated in New Orleans. The story follows Stallone and a Washington D.C. detective who see their respective partners die, and they then form an alliance in order to bring down their common enemy. Stallone is a fairly popular action hero whose popularity has grown with his start of a new ensemble action series, The Expendables. Stallone’s average opening weekend earning is $13.079 million, with The Expendables being his best number with $34. 825 million. Bullet to the Head probably won’t meet his average earning, but his new vehicle will draw a nice crowd for those who need their Sly fix.

Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin team up for a buddy crime comedy, Stand Up Guys. The film follows Val (Pacino) who has just been released from prison, as he and his buddy Doc (Walken) try to get the old gang back together for one last hurrah, before one of the guys takes his last assingment — to kill his comrade. It’s really all a great formula for a potentially great action comedy.

But the real winner of the weekend will be Warm Bodies, a new comedy horror that might be considered Twilight with zombies, but I truly hope, nor think, this is the case. This feature feels like it really might reinvent the genre, and do it successfully. This film follows R (Nicholas Hoult), a highly unusual zombie who saves a human, Julie (Teresa Palmer), from an attack. Their growing bond may just change the lifeless world altogether. You’ve seen the whole odd relationship before: an average girl and a boy of the supernatural kind. But this is different. This is set in a post-apocalyptic world where zombies are the norm, and humans are odd. Another interesting concept is this flick is actually suggesting the main girl is hot enough to reanimate a whole lifeless world, and make the zombies real again. Sure, Palmer’s hot, but she’s no Megan Fox. She’ll have to do. This makes the film have an original concept, and from the trailer, the humour looks like the strange, awkward brand of comedy that I love. This flick will also attract fans of the novel, as well as those who are interested in this awesome feature, like myself. This zombie feature looks cool, smart, and original. One thing that could make this film a certified sleeper hit is expert writing and direction from writer/director Jonathan Levine (50/50). I’ll appreciate this as long as there aren’t any love triangles…

Here’s how I see the Top 10:
1. Warm Bodies/$18, 700, 000
2. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters/ $12, 400, 000
3. Bullet to the Head/ $9, 200, 000
4. Silver Linings Playbook/ $7, 650, 000
5. Mama/ $5, 620, 000
6. Zero Dark Thirty/ $5, 530, 000
7. Parker/ $4, 065, 000
8. Django Unchained/ $2, 920, 000
9. Stand Up Guys/ $2, 000, 000
10. Movie 43/ $1, 970, 000