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Movie review: 'Stand Up Guys'

Posted 2:37pm on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013

R (strong language, sexual content, violence, brief drug use); 94 min.

Stand Up Guys is about three aged stand-up guys, a "crew" that hasn't been a crew in almost 30 years. It has three comically charismatic Oscar winners in the lead roles -- Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin -- and a plot with room for comedy.

But the funereal tone is better suited to a picture with more gravitas than this Fisher Stevens film earns.

Pacino is Val, a mop-topped convict who gets out of a long stint in prison as the film opens. Walken is Doc, his pal, loyal since the '70s, when Val went in.

But Val wants to party like it's 1979. Find a bar, find a brothel. It's meant to be a night "like the old days." But there's a mob boss who still has a grudge. One guy is supposed to kill the other.

Val and Doc get into a kerfuffle. They right a wrong, steal a car. They drag their old getaway driver (Arkin) out of a nursing home -- oxygen tank and all.

Walken brings a quiet dignity to Doc, a man of violence long reformed -- "I'm retired. I'm serious."

But Pacino's Val ignores the entreaties of one and all to not embarrass himself. He does.

Arkin sparks the picture to life, acting his age and being funny at it. And the addition of Julianna Margulies as the child of one "Guy" and of Lucy Punch as the madam at a cut-rate brothel enlivens a few scenes.

But the central premise is a half-hearted retread. And the gags come from a score of earlier films and sitcoms.

Which is pretty much where these Stand Up Guys are stuck.

-- Roger Moore,

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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