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Posted: April 10, 2017

‘Going in Style’ is an old-guy-heist movie worth treasuring

Written by: Wire Services
 Alan Arkin, from left, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine appear in a scene from "Going in Style." Photo by Atsushi Nishijima/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP

Alan Arkin, from left, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine appear in a scene from “Going in Style.”
Photo by Atsushi Nishijima/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP

Though Zach Braff’s intermittently jaunty “Going in Style” is primarily a comedy, you watch it with a wistful eye; the irresistible trio at its center can’t help but remind us that they won’t be here forever. Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin (Freeman, the youngest, turns 80 this summer) were all acting in movies and television long before director Braff (“Garden State”) was even born, and the old-pro breeze they create here is something to be treasured. There’s a scene, late in the film, where the three swagger drunkenly through a park singing, and you wish Braff could have held on to the moment just a bit longer — and that every movie could, if only for a minute, find this sort of uncomplicated joy.

That’s not to say that “Going in Style” is a masterpiece, or even especially good: Based (quite loosely) on the 1979 George Burns/Art Carney/Lee Strasberg film of the same title, it’s an agreeably generic mishmash of every old-guys-pull-one-last-heist movie you’ve ever seen. The plot — in which former steelworkers, longtime buddies and Brooklyn neighbors Willie (Freeman), Joe (Caine) and Al (Arkin) scheme to rob the bank that robbed them of their pension checks — is predictable from beginning to end, featuring at least one hole even deeper than Freeman’s famous voice.

Watch the trailer for “Going in Style”

But Braff wisely makes the film short and snappy, keeps the aren’t-old-people-cute-when-they-swear stuff to a minimum, and lets the fun that his actors are having shine through. And you’d have to be made of sterner stuff than me to resist the way Caine’s Joe, when his beloved young granddaughter (Joey King) says she can walk home alone, gazes at her as if she were made of gold and replies, “Not on my watch, lovey.” Or how Freeman’s Willie, unexpectedly meeting a little girl who reminds him of his own granddaughter, lets that voice soften into gentle velvet; or how Arkin’s Al grumpily finds love, protesting every step of the way with the nice lady (Ann-Margret) who works at the supermarket.

I’m hoping that Freeman, Caine and Arkin all have plenty of movies — and meatier roles — in their futures. In the meantime, it’s a low-key pleasure to hang out with these guys, even in a movie that’s only just good enough. As with all great actors, they don’t only become friends with each other on-screen, but with us.


starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret, Joey King, Matt Dillon, Christopher Lloyd, John Ortiz and Peter Serafinowicz. Directed by Zach Braff. Rated PG-13 for drug content, language and some suggestive material. Running time: 1:36


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