Susan Granger’s review of “Stand Up Guys” (Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate)
To waste the talents of Academy Award winners Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin on this inane hokum is a travesty!
When Val (Al Pacino) is released from prison after serving 28 years for refusing to give up one of his criminal cronies, he is picked up by old partner, Doc (Christopher Walken). Yearning to have sex, Val quickly consumes more male enhancement drugs than his system can tolerate. Suffering from painful priapism, he winds up in a hospital ER where he meets a nurse, Nina Hirsch (Julianna Margulies), who turns out to be the daughter of their old wheelman, Hirsch (Alan Arkin), whom they spring from a nursing home for a celebratory night of mischievous mayhem, settling scores and eluding cops in a stolen Dodge Challenger.
“I’m a stand-up guy,” Val explains, alluding to his loyalty. “I took the fall.” Problem is: Doc has orders from his mobster boss, known as Claphands (Mark Margolis), to kill Val in 24 hours, and when his granddaughter, Alex (Addison Timlin), becomes a potential victim, he’s even more conflicted.
Filled with Viagra jokes and sleazy sexual innuendos, newbie scriptwriter Noah Haidle’s character-driven concept is flimsy and formulaic, which also describes Fisher Stevens’ flaccid direction. Stevens, who has worked both in front of and behind the camera, won an Oscar for “The Cove,” a documentary about the slaughter of dolphins in Japan.
During a slow dance, Al Pacino evokes memories of his far-better “Scent of a Woman.” Originally, he and Walken were cast in reverse roles, since Walken was once a professional dancer. But Pacino preferred to play Val
and Walken wanted to be Doc. So the switch was made.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this project is how singer/songwriter/musician Jon Bon Jovi submitted his ideas for the music. According to the rocker, he sang into his iPhone while playing his acoustic guitar.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Stand Up Guys” is a wobbly, contrived 4. Given that cast, it could have and should have been so much better.