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Stand Up Guys - Review

Stand Up Guys

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

AL Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin do a stand up job of transforming a pretty average script into something hugely entertaining.

The veteran trio obviously relished the opportunity to work with each other and their enjoyment translates well to the audience, papering over the many cracks in an otherwise hit and miss offering.

The premise is fine. Former stick up man Val (Pacino) is released from prison after 28 years and immediately hooks up with former colleague and best friend Doc (Walken) for a celebratory night on the town unaware that Doc has been ordered to kill him.

The two become three when they enlist another former comrade, ex-wheelman Hirsch (Arkin) for a real night of mayhem.

To be fair, Noah Haidle’s script gives rise to a few dramatic arcs (getting old, loyalty, betrayal) that are gobbled up with relish by the performers and there’s some genuinely great interplay between Pacino and Walken, in particular, that is worth the price of admission.

A sub-plot involving a waitress friend of Doc’s is also nicely handled and contributes to an unexpectedly poignant conclusion.

But the film’s attempts to mix darker elements with the type of bawdy comedy that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Hangover-style comedy are mostly mis-judged, no matter how well handled by the main trio. A recurring gag involving Pacino’s character’s need for Viagra is somewhat unnecessary, while a tip-toe into rape-revenge territory strikes an uneasy tone that borders on the offensive.

Fortunately, director Fisher Stevens seems to realise, for the most part, where his film’s strengths lie and is content to let Pacino showboat (some scenarios seem to deliberately recall his Oscar-winning work in Scent Of A Woman), Walken respond with cool indignation and Arkin steal the handful of scenes that he gets to share.

For all its flaws, Stand Up Guys remains a guilty pleasure for fans of any of these actors.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 95mins
UK Release Date: June 28, 2013