Director: Fisher Stevens
Starring: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Julianna Margulies, Mark Margolis, Lucy Punch, Addison Timlin.
Written by: Noah Haidle
Running time: 95 mins
Release date: 28th June 2013
There once was a time when a film starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin would attract not only a bigger audience but huge publicity. Those days seem to have long gone. Nowadays it seems that nobody knows that this film, Stand Up Guys, even exists. Hardly any publicity, no big premiere, not even appearance of a chat show to promote it. It will also be very lucky if it lasts a week in the cinema. On the face of those three leads alone, the film should have been a small cinematic masterpiece. Instead we get a little movie and it relies very heavily on the personas of its leading men.
Val has just been released from jail where he’s picked up by his old partner in crime and friend, Doc. Doc informs him that mob boss Claphands has put to contract out on him, believing that Val was responsible for the death of his son which had led to Val’s imprisonment. On hearing the news, Val decides to live his life to the fullest even though he knows it won’t be for too long. The pair go to a brothel, where Val finds out that he cannot perform without a certain performance enhancing drug, which they go and steal. Then they decide to get their old friend and wheelman, Hirsch, out of hospital to drive around in a stolen car, just for old times’ sake. Time seems to be running out for all of them and it may be too late to do anything about it.
The major problem with this film is that its full of events, yet nothing much actually happens. We get a few jokes about not being able to perform in the bedroom area; the dangers of taking too Viagra, and that elderly man who dream is to have sex with two women can make them fall in love with him about the best we get. The rest of the time we have to rely on Pacino being Pacino, Walken wearing his trousers far too high, and leaving the star performance from Arkin who is only in about half the movie anyway.
It genuinely feels as if director Fisher Stevens, full of admiration for his leads, just doesn’t know what to do with them, so allows them to freewheel it. Even the most experienced of actors need some form of direction. It doesn’t help that the script feels so empty. Set over a period of one night and a string of unconnected events only connected by the characters, it’s disjointed and leaves our leads roaming around aimlessly.
Even the usually reliable Lucy Punch cannot save the film. Made to play a goofy Brothel owner, it’s more caricature than a character. Julianna Margulies, who has become quite a big name on television in the show The Good Wife, goes back to her ER days, played a big part as a nurse, completely wasting her talents.
If anything this is a film that should make you angry then entertain you. You have three A Lister names, all of them Oscar winners, all of them first class actors and so we expect so much more from them. The film isn’t funny enough to be a comedy, nor exciting enough to be a crime thriller. It’s just a waste of time and effort from all.
Don’t worry too much if you miss this one in the cinema. You won’t be missing too much and that’s a sad thing to say considering who was involved.