It’s cute how Zach Braff’s filmography as director goes from the 20-something anxiety-riddled coming-of-age flick Garden State, to the midlife crisis-centered Wish I Was Here to the septuagenarian bank heist movie Going In Style. But despite the hijinks surrounding Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin and Michael Caine as bankrobbers, Going In Style might be Braff’s most middle-of-the-road movie yet.
Technically, Going In Style is a remake of a 1979 movie starring George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg, but the movies’ plots vary wildly. The 2017 version, written by Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent, Hidden Figures), sees lifelong friends Joe, Willie, and Al, retired factory workers whose pensions just got cancelled due to corporate restructuring, deciding to rob a bank. It’s a fish-out-of-water type story, where the three men concoct a plan that places them completely out of their depths. Predictably, this leads to some comedic and dramatic moments.
Yes, the film is primarily a comedy. But it also touches on some deeply dramatic and true-to-life situations: old people who has worked hard all their life are unable to keep up financially. Failing health, failing hips, and failing relationships all play their roles – and the question of whether hope will prevail is an omnipresent one. Observational comedy is rife throughout Going In Style – including the occasional laugh at old age itself. It borders on making fun of old people, but mostly doesn’t feel offensive or cold-hearted. The exception is Christopher Lloyd’s side character: a senile friend of the protagonists that was uncomfortably made the butt of several jokes.
The geriatric trio (with Ann-Margret as a love interest) are charming and lovable, and even though their people-are-mistreated-by-corporations worldview, and we’ll-steal-only-what-we-need and insurance-will-cover-it-anyway justifications are distorted and slim, we’re firmly on the side of the desperate amateur thieves who are trying to prove that “you’re never too old to get even.”
The script, despite being different from the original film, isn’t that original – it feels pretty predictable and contains fish-out-of-water heist movie clichés aplenty. The visual treatment of it, on the other hand, has all the necessary flairs to turn it into something special. The sum total, however, ends up being a somewhat bland and average comedy, that’s still fairly enjoyable.
Going In Style is a fair, entertaining comedy. It’s a little disappointing that an endearing concept like this falls short when it comes to originality. Still, it’s a fun, funny film that’s great for a bit of escapist pleasure.
Going In Style is directed by Zach Braff, and start Alan Arkin, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman. It’s in cinemas from 28 April.