Stand Up Guys is set in some mythical city that is sort of Los Angeles and kinda Philadelphia. The time could be now, but since everyone is listening to deep-cut soul songs, it could also be the 1970s.
Maybe you think that’s the point — a film about old hoods reuniting for one last blazing night of criminal activity, which starts with a prolonged Viagra joke and ends with lighthearted murders. But it ends up feeling more like a Tarantino film, minus the unerring sensationalistic flourishes. It makes sense for a crime fantasia to be set once upon a time and place, but the mythmaking here just leads the film down too many blind alleys. There is a nonsensical funeral where our stylish crook buddies involve the daughter of one of their formerly dangerous colleagues. Later, a flukey set piece begins with a naked woman in the trunk of a stolen car and ends with a baseball ascending to a rapist’s crotch. We’re meant to see these stylish old rogues as questing knights, saving damsels while bending themselves to vengeances, yet a lot of this film seems half-baked. Or, better yet, written while fully baked.
But it does have three formidable assets: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and a relatively brief interlude with the great Alan Arkin. Walken makes his many eccentricities seem like performance art, while Pacino is a ball of smooth fury. The best thing about this inconsequential film is watching how much fun these actors are having playing fading legends with some grace left over; they’re the coolest hams in the business. But it’s not enough to make anybody but big fans enjoy themselves too.
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