Director Martin Brest’s 1979 film Going in Style was remarkable in that he wasn’t even thirty when he made the film and yet it so sharply captured the trials and tribulations of growing old. The film’s plot involves three bored retirees with a plan to rob a bank as a cure for their collective boredom. George Burns, Lee Strasberg and Art Carney wonderfully embodied the three central roles and the film left viewers with much to think about after it was all said and done.
I guess it was only a matter of time before Going in Style was remade for modern audiences. Had it been put in the right hands, the potential was there for an updated exploration of the pitfalls of aging in the spirit of the original film. Unfortunately, this isn’t that film. This version of Going in Style replaces more substantive and weightiness found in the original film with sitcom style hijinks. Think of it as something of an extension of the Grumpy Old Men franchise, replete with one of that film’s stars, Ann Margret, returning as the love interest. Well, at least the film does offer three great actors— Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, all Oscar winners—to liven things up whenever they’re given the chance.
To be fair the film does attempt to make some semblance of a statement on the current situation that the elderly face in its early scenes. For instance, the character played by Michael Caine, is facing foreclosure on his home due to the ballooning interest rate that he was unaware of when purchasing said property. And Freeman’s character is suffering the last stages of kidney failure and is badly in need of a transplant. The film then throws all credibility to the wind around the time that Arkin’s character begins a romance with Ann Margret and we’re asked to believe that the rate of intercourse between the two is roughly three times a day. So much for taking the high road, I suppose. Of course, the film’s original bank robbery plot is retained although the downbeat ending of the original has been ditched for a more conventional one.
Going in Style isn’t a terrible film. It’s just a mediocre one which is probably the best one could expect from its mediocre director, Zach Braff, who was a critics’ darling for a minute after the release of his first directorial effort the overrated Garden State. In the near decade and a half since he’s helmed a total of two films, with Going in Style the third on his resume. This is one film that could have used a director with more on his mind than pleasing audiences who were weaned on sitcoms. As it stands, Going in Style is a missed opportunity.
This movie is playing at the AMC 15 theater (formerly the Carmike) in Hickory, and all around the area.
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