Going in Style
Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret
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“…real elderly characters who, rather than being the butt of the joke, crack the best ones in the whole movie.”
“It is a society’s duty to take care of their elderly” – the underlying theme of Zach Braff’s latest directorial feature, Going In Style, is not just politically aware, but also handled surprisingly deftly, giving a voice to the hardships of an often-neglected section of society.
Going In Style follows loving grandfather Joe (Michael Caine), whose golden years are proving to be anything but: his old workplace has just announced that they can’t afford to pay his pension, and the bank has taken advantage of him and his mortgage and served him an eviction notice. So when Joe is caught up in a bank robbery and inspired to take matters into his own hands, he and his two best friends Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Albert (Alan Arkin) decide they have nothing to lose and plan their own bank heist.
As a comedy-drama, there is certainly fun to be had with the age-related hijinks here: filled with fantastic smaller characters such as Ann-Margret’s Annie, Christopher Lloyd’s Milton and Joh Ortiz’ Jesus, the film fills out its wonderful world and gives us a wealth of smaller, funny moments. This is where the film’s humour shines best, the little, relatable bits that flesh out the characters, like watching television together or eating at a diner, that remind us all of the humanity that comes with getting old. It’s the bigger stuff, though, that’s a little tired; the fish out of water stereotypes and over-the-top characters fall flat, since it’s not the big heist that’s the most interesting or fun part of the film, but its characters and their lives.
Going in Style was originally made in 1979 by Martin Brest (Midnight Run) with Art Carney, George Burns and Lee Strasberg as our heroes. In typical, ‘70s style there was an edge to the film, with a downer ending that made the whole scenario bittersweet and realistic. The 2017 version written by Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent, Hidden Figures) and directed by Zach Braff is a different beast, much more candy-coated and optimistic.
The biggest asset is that not only are Caine, Freeman and Arkin doing their best here, their characters are so real that through all the comedy hijinks, unlikely situations and morally questionable things that they do, you really care about them. You understand what would drive men to a point so low that they would consider robbing a bank. This is where Going In Style succeeds: it gives you real elderly characters who, rather than being the butt of the joke, crack the best ones in the whole movie.