Movie Review: 'Going in Style'


Since having nothing new to say is nothing new for Hollywood, filmmakers have taken to remakes so at least they’ll have some name recognition from the original version for their unoriginal ideas.

If you’re of a certain age (or if you give a damn enough to pay attention to stuff that happened before you were born), you’ll recognize the title of this flick from the 1979 film of the same name, starring George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg as our three delinquent geriatrics. Updated with Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin as Willie, Joe, and Albert, respectively, Going in Style 2017 doesn’t change their names but certainly changes the whole tone of the original, and not for the better. Considering it is a remake, comparing the two is only fair.

Obviously the main draw of the film is watching these three actors star in a movie together, but they’re sleepwalking their way through these parts; Arkin specifically is just Alan Arkin with less money.

And money is the main issue, here. In 1979, the decision to rob a bank is basically to break up the meaningless existence of an old person in America. Being unwanted and invisible not only drives the rather unwise decision to rob a bank, but it also quells the fears of the repercussions, with jail being preferable to the monotony of the elderly. Amazingly, humor and compassion exists alongside social commentary.

The 2017 version reverses this course, starting off with serious motivations that give way to typical Hollywood harmlessness, with no stakes or consequences whatsoever. That’s a shame, since the set-up is very real, and for way too many folks. The company that employed our three retired leads closes its doors and relocates their facilities and their dollars using some arcane law that allows them to stop paying out pension money to ex-employees who worked there for decades.

Add some predatory-lending practices played for laughs that threatens to take away Joe/Michael Caine’s house, and you have the institutionalized immorality poisoning the very heart of America today. But since that diet gives people agita, the filmmakers dismiss the meat of the story for a heaping helping of dessert, complete with a lighthearted score to accompany the shenanigans, and inept, near-Keystone cops (there’s another reference to Google, kids) to ensure our favorite old actors get away with it. Sure, the sweet stuff goes down easy, but such a sugar-rich diet is hardly satisfying, or even good for you.

See trailer here.

Richard Bonaduce
Richard Bonaduce
Rich Bonaduce was born and raised in Pennsylvania but has lived in Utah now for half his life. In addition to being a regular contributor as a Film Critic for Salt Lake Magazine, he is also the Film Critic and Entertainment reporter for FOX13’s weekly morning show Good Day Utah. He’s also a drummer in local band “Mojave Rose,” and is much shorter than he appears on television. You've been warned.

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