Stand Up Guys is a movie about testosterone. If you’re skeptical, consider the ample amount of sex jokes, comical gags centered around a brothel and erectile dysfunction, and an adrenaline-fueled car chase in a Dodge Challenger. But for all its raunchiness, profanity and skirt-chasing, there’s some nuggets of wisdom about aging, friendship and savoring the golden years.
Doc (Christopher Walken) is an ex-hitman who has retreated from his halcyon days and now spends his time painting. Val (Al Pacino) is a felon free on parole after serving 28 years in jail. Through a series of crazy turns, the duo wind up at a nursing home, where Val wants to visit old friend Richard Hirsch (Alan Arkin). From there, hilarity and sentimentality reign. While Noah Haidle’s script is far from perfect, there are enough pleasant scenes to keep the film from careening off a cliff.
But whether that has to do more with the veteran actors or the roaring soundtrack than first-time director Fisher Stevens is up for debate. What’s not up for debate though is the blatant underuse of Emmy-winner Juliana Margulies, an underdeveloped familial subplot involving a diner waitress (Addison Timlin) and more shark-jumping scenes than can be counted. Alas in a movie brimming with potential, the whole thing comes across as nothing more than a Saturday night Netflix rental.
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