IHAO on ... Stand Up Guys

Hey look, I finally got around to this one!  Sure took me long enough, especially considering that back when I decided to review it, it was the one I was most looking forward to!  So let's start up Netflix and get this puppy reviewed!

95 minutes later


You know what's great about seeing Pacino and Walken playing best friends?  Everything.  You know what's great about seeing the guy from Short Circuit 2 be a director?  Everything.  You know what's great about Alan Arkin having a ... basically extended cameo for Act 2?  Everything.  You know what's great about this movie?  Just about everything.  Then why don't I love this movie?

There are some barriers that keep it from being amazing in my book.  But I'm a little nitpick-y and snobbish at times.  Comes with the territory of reviewing films for a "living."  And I can very much understand these things not mattering to most.  But first, let me continue to tell you the good stuff.

This film is about the last day in the life of Val, played by Al Pacino, as his only friend Doc, played by Christopher Walken, has to kill him by morning to erase a mob debt.  These guys are criminals, and friends.  Val was in the joint for 28 years, taking the rap for everyone, because "[he's] a stand-up guy."   So we watch the adventures of these old-timer crooks on Val's last day alive.  This includes a car chase, a semi- I Spit On Your Grave subplot, getting suits, breaking Arkin out of a nursing home, lots of hookers, and a little bit of violence.  But what it really involves is Val and Doc's friendship.

That's the thing this entire film pivots around.  It is the grease on the plot's wheel.  And this is the "flaw" of the movie ... these guys are just a little too tough.  A little too hardened.  So we just do not quite get into the emotions these guys are feeling.  Some of that is because I believe everyone involved thought they were making a quirkier comedy than they actually were.  Or perhaps they thought they were being more serious than they ended up being.  I'm not really sure.  But there is a barrier of emotion that keeps this movie from being GREAT.  I see their friendship, I see the subtle things, but the plot, the dialogue, the acting, none of those things really bring the audience in deep into the film's emotion, and that's unfortunate.

That said, it is a well shot, well acted, well written movie.  It does everything right.  Everything except for going above and beyond.  I think this film is easily worth watching, and the fact that not only it is on Netflix right now, but that blu-rays are 8 bucks are Wal-Mart means that a lot of you who really love the crime genre should absolutely watch this film.  But for me, I wanted this movie to give me something more than it was willing to give, and while I find it to be an excellent film, I just don't see myself caring.

Grade: A

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