Last Spring there was a British indie called Golden Years – a film which has, for the most part, an identical narrative structure to what we’re now seeing in Hollywood picture Going in Style. Though the credentials of the cast is wildly different, not to mention the resources available to the respective filmmakers – there’s little that separates the two movies in terms of quality, and the former was written by DIY SOS’s very own Nick Knowles. This time, our primary storyteller is Zach Braff, a filmmaker accused of being too overtly quirky, and contrived in his commitment to whimsicality in his preceding endeavours. So now while he’s thankfully toned it down somewhat, he’s gone too far in the opposite direction, presenting a film that is frustratingly generic.
Upon discovering that they are soon to lose their jobs – and pensions – old friends Willie (Morgan Freeman), Albert (Alan Arkin) and Joe (Michael Caine) come up with an idea – to rob the bank that appears to be screwing them over, and steal the funds they believe is rightfully theirs. Given their elderly status, and overall immobility, they seem unlikely thieves, hoping to use this misjudged preconception to their advantage. Their age does has its downfalls though, for knowing exactly how to construct such an endeavour, and to pull it off successfully is harder than they had initially envisaged, with FBI agent Hamer (Matt Dillon) keeping a close eye on proceedings.
There’s a relatively charming, tender tone to this piece, albeit a throwaway piece of cinema that is unlikely to linger long in the memory. The exploration of modern America, and what it means to be elderly in the States can be profound in parts, but is cheapened by the irreverence, as Braff struggles to find a compatible balance. Instead we have scenes such as the collective smoking weed (because all comedies about older people feature drug-taking scenes that are rarely funny), and slapdash, slapstick moments that rarely muster a smile.
On a more positive note, the soundtrack is great, featuring tracks from the likes of Sam Cook and Dinah Washington amongst others, but it’s a small saving grace from an otherwise mediocre piece of cinema. It’s great that actors of this age, and calibre, are still finding leading roles in Hollywood, and we should celebrate this fact – but just because they’re lead parts, doesn’t mean they are good ones. The motto of the film seems to be that it’s “society’s duty to take care of the elderly” – but if that is the case, stop giving them such dull movies to work on.
Going in Style is released on April 7th