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Did Two Cranky Guys Fall for “Stand-Up Guys”?

December 16, 2012

Bruce: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin play aging criminals who come out of retirement in the new dark comedy Stand Up Guys, so I coaxed my former partner in Two Cranky Guys cybercrime, Bret Watson, out of his semi-retirement to join me for a screening. The question is, Bret: Did these Guys make you want to Stand Up and cheer—or Stand Up and leave?

Bret: Walk, don’t run, to see Stand Up Guys! At least that’s my advice for the seniors who are the apparent target audience for this movie. Get out your scooters!

Bruce: We were among the youngest people at Lincoln Center, where we saw it. If not for us, the median age would’ve been dead.

Bret: I enjoyed the movie, though it wasn’t funny enough to be a comedy nor dramatic enough to be a drama. It was a blahmedy. But it’s worth it to see Pacino, Walken and Arkin working together.

Bruce: I’m surprised you enjoyed it. I did, too, but I couldn’t tell from your body language—checking your watch, shifting uncomfortably in your seat—and from your actual language, when you asked me midway through, “Do you know how long this movie is?”

Bret: It was draggy. It’s one of those picaresque tales that unfold in 24 hours, a sort of last hurrah before someone has to die. It takes a while to get where you know you’re going, and some of the detours aren’t compelling.

Bruce: True, but a lot happens in those 24 hours. The geezers shoot a bunch of young thugs, steal and snort prescription drugs, swipe a sportscar and shtup Russian hookers. It reminded me of one of our usual nights on the town.

Bret: Did the scene where Pacino swallows too many Viagra pills bring back painful memories? That’s a good example of the kind of predictable gag the movie goes for. It can’t decide whether to be snappy and funny or slower and realistic. So it squats in between, leaving you neither laughing nor believing.

Bruce: Yeah, when you’re gonna do a boner gag, you really need to commit. Isn’t that your motto? That scene kinda felt like Little Fockers directed by John Cassavetes.

Bret: Thanks to the magic of Hollywood, you and I have now sat through two movies in which Pacino and DeNiro have pup-tent pants. I could’ve gone to my grave without that, thank you. I guess Nicholson is next up…

Bruce: Nicholson goes through life like that. The movie is an odd mix of shtick and grit. But I enjoyed the performances, not just by the trio of elderly gents but also Julianna Margulies, back in scrubs as Arkin’s nurse daughter and Addison Timlin as a waitress with a connection to Walken. She also has a connection to the film’s director, Fisher Stevens—they were both on Showtime’s Californication.

Bret: I thought I was in a time warp when I saw Margulies back in the ER with her hair pulled back. If Anthony Edwards burst in, I was gonna walk.

Bruce: She has only two scenes, but I’m sure she did the part just so she could work with Pacino and Walken. Weirdly, she has no scenes with Arkin, who plays her dad. Unlike Lucy Punch, as a madam who ends up in a three-way with Little Mr. Sunshine. As I’ve said of Lucy, I usually want to punch her, and in this case, her cartoonish performance didn’t fit with the rest of the movie, so my statement holds true again.

Bret: I enjoy her goofy face.I can’t fault her for reading the script and not knowing whether she was in a comedy or a drama.

Bruce: It’s a blahmedy! I’m gonna steal that line. Actually it’s a pretty good description of the first thirty years of my life.

Bret: I thought Pacino and Walken were excellent. I particularly enjoyed Walken’s patented weird line readings.

Bruce: It was fun watching them together. They have such offbeat speech rhythms, it was like two jazz musicians riffing with each other.

Bret: Do you think this movie will do any business?

Bruce:  Not outside the Upper West Side at least They’re only releasing it now because they were hoping for nominations but so far all it’s gotten was a Golden Globe nod for one of Jon Bon Jovi’s awful songs.

Bret: It struck me as the perfect kind of movie you watch on cable when you have nothing else to do. A pleasant surprise if it catches you off-guard. If you deliberately seek it out, you’ll probably experience a letdown.

Bruce: Like sex with an old man—or so I’m told.

Bret: There’s the summation of the movie: Like sex with an old man—kind of a letdown, yet also miraculous.

Bruce: At least that’s what your wife always says.

Bret: You have to admire the old coots for rising to the occasion. So to speak.

Will you buy a seat for Stand-Up Guys? Post a comment!

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