I will admit my biases openly. When it comes to movies, I judge three things harshly: superheroes, coming of age stories, and comedies starring the elderly. I have seen everything each of those three genres have to offer and I’m beyond bored by them.
The third of my triangle of the mundane gets new life this week with the release of Going in Style, which stars Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin (who is in all of these movies) as three retired factory workers that have just discovered that their former employer is broke and there will be no more pension payments.
Caine’s character, Joe, witnesses a bank robbery. He happens to be in the bank that day to contest the foreclosure proceedings that have begun on his home. That is when he gets the idea that if young idiots can pull of a heist, he and his septuagenarian posse can.
As far as old people getting the best of society comedies go, Going in Style isn’t that bad. But you have to remember how low that bar is set. Just because every joke isn’t Alan Arkin calling Facebook “the Instaface” doesn’t mean we’re dealing with comedy gold here.
Perhaps the most shocking thing about Going in Style is that it was directed by Zach Braff. Yes, the same Zach Braff that was delightful for the first six seasons of Scrubs. Yes, the same Zach Braff that was hailed as a genius for the 2004 indie Garden State. How he went from budding auteur to making PSAs about the importance of IRAs and 401ks is almost unfathomable…and then you watch Garden State as a 30-something as opposed to a 20-something and realize that it’s just slightly better than okay.
While I was happy with the lack of “young people don’t get it but we do” and “isn’t the internet weird” jokes, that doesn’t mean I enjoyed myself. Honestly, I can’t say I laughed at Going in Style one time.
See, even if the comedy wasn’t the hack garbage I expected, the movie itself is. Who is more sympathetic than old people? No one! Who is more hatable than big banks and big companies that see those old people as nothing more than numbers on a bottom line? Nobody!
There isn’t much to Going in Style because it doesn’t risk very much. All of the characters are likable enough, even if they are just the three lead actors playing heightened versions of themselves. There’s even a side story about a deadbeat dad learning to show his daughter he really does love her. All necessary heartstrings are appropriately tugged.
What Going in Style has going for it is that your only other option for a new movie in theaters this week is Smurfs: The Lost Village, which is so bad that I actually asked my kids if I could go get them more candy just to get out of the theater. Save your money this week. Go for a walk. Read a book. There’s nothing good happening at the movies.ᐧ
Demetri Ravanos is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and has reviewed movies for Raleigh and Company, Military1.com and The Alan Kabel Radio Network. He can be heard weekday mornings from 6-10 on "The Morning Show with Mike, Lauren and Demetri" on Buzz Sports Radio.