Going in Style

It’s always fun to see Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin on screen separately, let alone together. However, Going in Style is a forgettable comedy that generally squanders its talent on both sides of the camera.

This lackluster if good-natured remake of a 1979 film of the same name clearly targets an older demographic that might find the jokes nostalgic instead of stale.

The story follows longtime buddies Joe (Caine), Albert (Arkin) and Willie (Freeman) whose retirement income is cut off when a merger involving their former employer cuts off their pension.

Faced with foreclosure on his house, and with the others facing similar financial desperation, Joe proposes they rob the same bank that’s essentially robbing them. He figures, what have they got to lose?

While organizing their unlikely scheme and subsequently facing scrutiny from a detective (Matt Dillon), each of the men deals with personal issues. Willie is hiding a medical condition, Albert is flirting with a grocery clerk (Ann-Margret), and Joe tries to reconcile with his deadbeat son-in-law (Peter Serafinowicz).

Whatever energy the film achieves is due to the effortless chemistry of its three stars, who have fun with the material and elevate it whenever they’re able. While it’s true that they’ve all done better work elsewhere and are content to be cashing a paycheck here, at least they have some fun.

Only a fraction of that fun spreads to the audience, however, thanks to a breezy screenplay by Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures) that’s predictable from start to finish, and straightforward direction by Zach Braff (Garden State) — notably working without his own script — that tosses in a few visual gimmicks and some cool tunes on the soundtrack, but otherwise lacks subtlety and surprise.

And it’s not like they’re butchering a classic. The original film — which was directed by Martin Brest and starred George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg — suffered from some similar pitfalls.

Going in Style features plenty of self-deprecating gags about aging, some mildly amusing instances of male bonding over bocce and reality television, and a half-hearted commentary about corporate greed. But mostly it’s all a transparent excuse for three geriatrics to get into some far-fetched mischief, and kudos to them for almost pulling it off.


Rated PG-13, 96 minutes.