Stand Up Guys | Movie review
Al Pacino and Christopher Walken sink further into self-parody.
Fresh out of prison after a 28-year stint, career criminal Val (Al Pacino) is picked up at the gate by his old partner, Doc (Christopher Walken). The duo make some small talk, but all Val really wants to do is “party,” which Pacino pronounces, in a shape-of-things-to-come sort of way, as “potty.” Doc goes along willingly to both the local whorehouse and the singles bar to help his friend indulge. Yet he’s clearly in the dumps about something—namely, that he’s been contracted by a vicious mob boss to kill Val for a long-ago transgression.
This moronically unfunny gangster comedy—which opened the Chicago International Film Festival in October—fluctuates wildly between the lowest-of-low humor and pity-the-aged-man pathos. It offers further evidence that its iconic cast members’ best days are behind them. At least Walken’s sub-Tarantino posturing is counterbalanced by his stellar recent work in A Late Quartet and Seven Psychopaths; meanwhile, third-wheel Alan Arkin drifts through his glorified cameo as a former getaway driver. Then there’s the exhausted-looking Pacino, who has been coasting long enough that this latest lazy performance feels uniquely depressing. He flails helplessly through torturously dragged-out gag sequences—the Viagra-overdose set piece is some kind of career nadir—and courts cheap-seats sentiment with a number of bathetic reminiscences about the old days. It’s hard to believe this is the same man who once riled up the crowd with street-theater cries of “Attica” and commanded the screen with bug-eyed intensity in Glengarry Glen Ross and Heat.