15 October 2012

Stand Up Guys (Fisher Stevens, 2012, USA)

The opening night feature at this year's Chicago International Film Festival was Stand Up Guys, due for release on January 11. The film stars Chistopher Walken, Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, and Juliana Margulies. The film begins as Christopher Walken picks up Al Pacino from prison, where he's been spent the past 18 years or so for some crime he took the fall for. It's hard to say exactly what the plot is without destroying a bit of suspense in the film, which is probably why the synapses I've read of the film tend to be vague and misleading. Not that it's some great bit of narrative engineering or anything, but I'll leave it at that all the same.
In any event, I was a little surprised at how silly these actors are in different scenes, particularly in scenes involving "dick pills" and a scene where Al Pacino makes an ass of himself in a bar. It's kind of a funny movie, but most of the humor seems centered on the crotch, so if that's not your thing, then maybe this loose collection of dick jokes isn't really for you.
Honestly though, although I liked a number of things about the movie, such as Walken's relationship with the waitress in the diner, I felt like there were serious problems with the cause and effect relations in the movie. It's really a series of strange coincidences that don't ring particularly true, especially the way they just magically end up running into Juliana Margulies all of a sudden and finding out where this old man is being held up in a nursing home. And following from that arc, it's pretty unlikely that a nursing home in a major city like LA would have no desk staff or security staff. Really, I'd have probably forgiven a lot of this film's weaknesses if I had found it more interesting, but it didn't strike me as a particularly special movie, except as a curiosity piece that seems to scream "strange end of acting career film choices."
Having seen the film, I wasn't too surprised that it was the writer's first screenplay. What surprised me though was how amateurishly the experienced cast and director brought it all together. I liked some of the moments and some of the performances though. I was weirdly drawn the madam of the brothel that appears in the film.  C-

I'm really beginning to question even going to these opening night films anymore. I enjoyed The Last Rites of Joe May last year and it's a cool, rare experience to see a film in the Harris Theatre, but for what it costs to see them, I feel like the films are pretty weak more often than not. Additionally, I understand the point is they want you to shell out $150 for the gala as well, but I feel like there should be a Q&A or something if you're spending anywhere form $35 to $50 to see a film. I mean, I can see that people may enjoy watching Al Pacino and Christopher Walken walk the red carpet, but if they don't have anything to say, I'm not really too interested.  Maybe it's just not for me.

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