Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin and Christopher Lloyd – with a cast list like that you know that Going in Style is going to be, at the very least, worth checking out. Directed by the interesting choice of Zach Braff and paying homage to the caper film of the same name from the late 1970s, Going In Style is the latest in the current trend of what might be called ‘Adventures with Pensioners’.
Willie, Joe and Al (Freeman, Caine, and Arkin) are lifelong friends who live across the street from each other in the ‘burbs of NYC. Collectively they’re not in the best position for their budding retirement; the steel company that they have worked in for the last thirty years has gone offshore and therefore won’t pay their pensions, the years they have left can be counted on two hands, and without a miracle Joe is soon going to be evicted from his home.
When Joe is held up in an armed bank robbery he gets an idea. With hundreds of thousands of dollars to find and nothing to lose he figures the best course of action will be to try it himself – these three octogenarian misfits are going to rob a bank.
Since the success of films like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, studios have awoken to a new audience which they can market for. In England it’s called ‘chasing the grey pound’ and with films like Last Vegas, Hello, My name is Doris and Dirty Grandpa there’s a new strain of generic films for the Hollywood conveyer belt to slide out. They’re just as risk averse as any other Hollywood production, yet they star the sizeable crop of vintage actors which many of us grew up watching on our screens but have now reached the evening of their days.
Going in Style is one of the far better entries in this new sub-genre. It’s exactly what you expect it’s going to be but it’s fun, it’s funny and it has something firm to say about contemporary America. Freeman (79), Caine (84) and Arkin (83) still have all the charm that they’ve built careers around. The trio have excellent chemistry and for mainstream Hollywood there’s actual laugh-out-loud jokes which is a rare thing indeed. Best of all, Braff has made sure that the three amigos are never the butt of the jokes – as an audience we’re not laughing at the fact that they’re old; we’re laughing with them as they push the comedic envelope.
Interestingly, these’s also a lot being said about current America. “It’s society’s duty to protect the elderly” says one of the bank robbers at the beginning, who is taking better care of Caine’s character than his banker is. “These banks practically destroyed this country” Caine says at another time as he’s discussing robbing it, as he realises that if he goes to prison he will have three meals a day and a better health care system than he would outside.
This is a perfectly entertaining ride staring three of the best actors of their generation who still have enough chutzpah to carry a film on their own. It won’t tax the brain or leave any impression on your memory but if you do make the decision to go see it, you probably won’t be disappointed.
Going in Style is in cinemas from 20th April through Roadshow Films.