Scene & Heard: Hollywood legends breathe some life into ‘Going in Style’

By Jared Huizenga – Contributing Writer

Alan Arkin as Al, Morgan Freeman as Willie and Michael Caine as Joe in the New Line Cinema comedy “Going in Style,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo by Atsushi Nishijima ©2017 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT LLC)
Alan Arkin as Al, Morgan Freeman as Willie and Michael Caine as Joe in the New Line Cinema comedy “Going in Style,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo by Atsushi Nishijima ©2017 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT LLC)

For its first 10 minutes, “Going in Style” resembled the woman from the infamous Life Alert commercial … it had fallen and it needed help getting back up.

While our advertisement heroine had to wait for an ambulance to save her, director Zach Braff’s octogenarian comedy heist flick was rescued by the trio of Hollywood legends leading the cast.

Joe (Michael Caine), Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Al (Alan Arkin) are long-time friends and former coworkers, living out their retirements together – the eat their meals together, they play on a Bocce ball team together, they’re in the same social clubs, and they live in the same neighborhood.

Another commonality they have is the financial hardship created by the freezing of their pensions.

With his house on the brink of foreclosure, Joe heads to the bank to plead his case. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, during his visit he finds himself in the middle of a bank robbery. Unable to shake the precision and choreography of the heist, Joe repeatedly tells the story to his cohorts.

Later, after finding out that their pensions aren’t frozen so much as nonexistent, the trio decides to plan their own robbery to get back what they feel is rightfully theirs.

Michael Caine as Joe Harding in the New Line Cinema and Village Roadshow comedy “Going in Style,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.  (Photo by Atsushi Nishijima ©2017 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT LLC)
Michael Caine as Joe Harding in the New Line Cinema and Village Roadshow comedy “Going in Style,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo by Atsushi Nishijima ©2017 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT LLC)

At its core, “Going in Style” is little more than the classic heist film we’ve seen numerous times – it’s essentially “Ocean’s Eleven” meets “The Bucket List.”

In terms of story, it’s nothing special – when the jokes hit, they hit hard, but when they miss, they miss even harder; the sentimentality often feels forced and predictable; and the “action” scenes are what you’d expect when the youngest of your leads (Freeman) will turn 80 in a couple of months.

No, the only thing about “Going in Style” that stands out, and actually takes it from an incredibly blah movie to something actually worth spending 90 minutes on is the cast. While their styles are incredibly different from one another, Caine, Freeman and Arkin have undeniable chemistry and comedic timing. They appear to actually have fun working with each other, which gives the necessary dynamic between these three friends that the script definitely didn’t deliver.

Michael Caine as Joe Harding and Morgan Freeman as Willie Davis in the New Line Cinema and Village Roadshow comedy “Going in Style,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo by Atsushi Nishijima ©2017 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT LLC)
Michael Caine as Joe Harding and Morgan Freeman as Willie Davis in the New Line Cinema and Village Roadshow comedy “Going in Style,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo by Atsushi Nishijima ©2017 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT LLC)

In addition, there are fun supporting turns by Christopher Lloyd as an “eccentric” friend, Ann-Margret as Al’s would-be suitorette, Joey King as Joe’s teenage granddaughter, and Matt Dillon as a hapless FBI agent assigned to both bank robberies that take place in the film.

Without its stellar cast, “Going in Style” would have actually been pretty bad. With them, it’s still far from great, but it’s certainly a lot of fun and shows that in acting, age is just a number.

★★★ of ★★★★★

Jared Huizenga is a freelance movie critic. Follow his work at www.facebook.com/JaredMovies.