Willie (Morgan Freeman), Joe (Michael Caine) and Albert (Alan Arkin) each have their own personal and physical problems to deal with, varying from family troubles, health issues or just a generally cynical view on life. When the three are together or with their family though, they couldn’t be happier. All is about to radically change when Joe is about to lose his house, where his daughter (Maria Dizzia - OITNB) and granddaughter (Joey King - Fargo) are dependents. On top of that, the three friends lose their jobs when the company they work for is bought out, a move which also denies them their pensions. Desperate times call for desperate measures and the three decide to rob the bank withholding the company’s pension funds.
At the heart of this film is really the bond between our three leads of Freeman, Caine and Arkin, and as you’d expect from the three talented actors, they bring a natural charisma and infectious joy to the screen. All three get their due focus as we are shown all of their back stories, but also see certain traits that they share in common – a zest for life coupled with a touching vulnerability as all are aware of their ageing.
The supports have more varied results – while the estranged father, Murphy (Peter Serafinowicz), worrisome mother Rachel (Dizzia) and police officer Hamer (Matt Dillon) are pretty type-cast, other actors like King as the granddaughter Brooklyn have memorable moments, such as when she provides a very impressive Michael Caine impersonation. The supports that really steal the show though are SNL’s Kenan Thompson as a grocery store manager and Christopher Lloyd’s cameo appearance. Both will have you in stitches every time they appear on the screen.
There are some Scrubs-esque characters and moments, which should come as no surprise given Zach Braff, aka JD, is the director. But don’t expect the originality and heart of his debut feature Garden State (which in this reviewer’s opinion, has been the actor-director’s best work to date and remains of the standard that he has yet to meet again) here.
Going in Style is a pretty formulaic and predictable family drama, the first act of which is particularly frustrating given so much of the humour derives from old men being grumpy and cursing. Fortunately, it does get better and by the finale, it will have you feeling good and grinning from ear to ear. Bring the young’uns to it so they can discover a newfound love and respect for three great actor-comedians.