Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Going in Style Review

April is a bit of an interesting month for movies. With March transforming into an early summer month in Hollywood and May being the official start of Hollywood's summer, April is kind of left in that awkward middle phase where a lot of smaller films get dropped and forgotten about. These are the types of films that will either be hidden gems or throwaway garbage and it's hard to trust trailers or even reviews when those come out, so you just kind of have to take the gamble and see if it works out. That's what I'll be doing with several of my reviews this month because I'm certainly not one to just sit around and wait for all the good stuff, especially since last summer taught us that many highly anticipated blockbusters have the potential of being complete duds, anyways. So why not venture out to see a lot of these smaller films? "Going in Style" is a movie that I've been curious about for a while now since it had three of Hollywood's greatest actors settling down and having fun in their old age. It didn't seem like a movie that you should go in with super high expectations or take super seriously while watching, like some critics seem to have done, but rather it should be a movie to sit back and enjoy for a couple of hours, which is what I did. And I had a lot of fun with this!

As far as a premise goes, "Going in Style" is actually a remake of a 70's movie of the same name and premise, which I didn't actually know until like two days before I saw the movie, which was this past Thursday on opening night. Being that it's only been like a week since I've even known the original existed, I'm not going to spend much time on that or bother to compare the two, like I often do with remakes. If you do know and love the 70's version of "Going in Style," feel free to tell me about it in the comments and compare the two. I'd be curious to read about that from people. I'm just not going to do it myself. All I know is that both movies are about old people robbing banks. Old people with no criminal history, that is. In the old one apparently a group of old friends just get bored one day and rob a bank. In this one Michael Caine gets angry at the bank for wronging him and convinces Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin to join him in robbing his own bank, an idea that he got from witnessing a bank robbery himself. So slightly different setups, but similar premise. The 70's version has an 89 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, but that's with only nine reviews up, so not a totally reliable score to compare to the new version's 45 percent, a score that I think is too low.

That's it with the comparisons. Now I'm strictly onto this current remake. As I see it, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin have done so much for the world of cinema that I think it's perfectly fine if they want to relax and have a bit of fun for a movie. Because sadly this movie reminded me that we might not have these three for much longer. Morgan Freeman is the youngest of the three and he turns 80 later this year while Michael Caine is the oldest at 84. Their characters were joking around that they thought they would have eight years or ten years left and that made me nervous with how accurate they might, unless of course they all live til they are like 100 years old, in which case you could probably double those numbers. But that's still not a whole heck of a long time, all things considered, so why not just go have fun with some movies in your old age? And why can't we as an audience just kick back and enjoy a movie like this without taking it super seriously or expecting it to be one of the best heist films ever made in order for us to be pleased? If you go in with the right mindset to this film, I think there's a lot of fun to be had. Thus if you need a quick movie fix while you wait for the busy summer schedule, then I think this is an excellent choice.

The best part of this movie is definitely the chemistry between our three main characters. They all act as if they've been good friends for the last 50 years, thus they totally sell this friendship. While I don't know how good of friends they actually are off camera, I assume at least Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are good friends because they've been in practically every movie together this century. Yes, I exaggerate, but not by a whole lot. I could probably easily list 10 films off the top of my head without thinking too hard. But even if these three weren't the absolute best of friends, all three have had decades of acting experience to know how to pull this off. Thus watching them interacting on screen together is just a delight. I will be honest and say the setup was a bit dull and had me worried that the movie would be too boring, but once they finally made the decision that they were going to rob this bank, I had a big smile on my face for the rest of the movie. The chemistry between the three of them was great, the movie made me laugh quite a bit and the actual heist scenes were a ton of fun. Not as epic as an "Italian Job" or "Oceans Eleven," but it didn't need to be. It's just three old guys robbing a bank and having fun doing so. What more do you need in a movie?

When it comes to the actual heist scenes in the movie, we have a pre-heist scene, the heist preparation and the main heist. Quite frankly, the best moment of these three is the pre-heist. If you've seen any trailers, this scene will be the most familiar to you because that's the moment they spent most of their advertising on. But it's absolutely hilarious. Two of the three are on board for the heist while the other thinks they are crazy, which makes for a hilarious camaraderie in it's own right. But they have no idea how to do a heist or any experience doing so, so they decide to go rob their local grocery store in order to make dinner and this whole segment had me dying in laughter. Easily the most hilarious aspect of this movie. Overall, I didn't have a ton of laugh out loud laughter moments throughout the movie, but this scene definitely had me cracking up. Then they go find someone to train them on how to do an actual heist and prepare for that and the movie has a bit of a tonal shift to it. We go from outright comedy to more of a drama that actually had me kinda nervous when the big heist took place, which I think was an important shift for the overall experience of the movie because it gave the movie enough of a heart for you to care and let these three actors shine.

One of the most important parts of a heist movie, in my opinion, is the moral dilemma the audience is put in while watching. If a bank robbery happened in real life and we were watching things unfold on the news, all of us would be crossing our fingers that the perpetrators would be caught and thrown in prison. But when it happens in the movie and our main protagonists are the bank robbers, then we are cheering for them to get away with it, which is morally kind of backwards. Thus if the movie can successfully put you into that moral dilemma of making you cheer for crime to be committed while at the same time having that moral compass in the back of your head trying to point you in the right direction, then the heist movie gave you the appropriate cinematic experience. This movie definitely pulls that off. You want these three to succeed, but in between them deciding to do a heist and actually going through with it, there's a lot of family things setup and a lot of emotion displayed that makes you hope they don't go through with it. We establish that money isn't needed to provide happiness and success in life, thus the idea of these three getting caught and thrown into prison has some serious emotional implications and you don't even know if they are going to be able to pull this thing off.

Overall, I look at other reviews for this movie and I think there's a lot of critics that went into this movie with the wrong mindset. I don't like to be one to say, "Don't trust the critics" because that puts an unfair blanket statement on hundreds of professional critics that all go in and give their personal opinion. There's no team meeting among critics where they come up with a consensus that they're going to all bash certain movies while praising others. What you should do is find critics that you trust and read their individual reviews or watch their YouTube videos if you are in need of a second opinion before seeing a movie. Then go in and make up your mind on your own without letting their opinion become your opinion. What I will say in this case is that you shouldn't look at the Rotten Tomatoes score and conclude that "Going in Style" isn't worth your time, because in doing so I think you will be missing out on a fun, little April gem with three Hollywood legends enjoying life in their old age. No, this doesn't hold up to the all-time great heist films, but that wasn't the goal here. The goal here is to just have fun. If you choose to go into this movie with a relaxed mindset that you are going to enjoy life for two hours, then I think you will find enjoyment. I'm going to give "Going in Style" an 8/10.

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