In 1979, George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg starred as retirees who instead of just waiting to die decide to put some excitement into their lives by robbing a bank. That basic idea has been reimagined for a new era in Warner Bros/New Line’s Going In Style with a trio of Oscar winners in Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin. Although no one was particularly asking for a remake of the original from director Martin Brest, it seems to me, as I say in my video review above, that this is the perfect time and place to take this premise and update it to add social relevance.
That is exactly what screenwriter Ted Melfi (Hidden Figures) and director Zach Braff have done by making the bank robbery idea a much more urgent thing for these guys, who are actually still forced to work, facing the loss of their jobs and pensions, dealing with ageism, and basically getting screwed over by the banks. All this is established perfectly in the opening scene in which Caine visits his banker and hears all the bad news that is fit to print about the state of his financial future. As he agonizes over the news, the bank is suddenly held up by three guys wearing masks.
This sparks an idea, and he elicits buddies and co-workers Arkin and Freeman to join him in a plan to hold up a bank in the same way — but only to get enough money to live on and replace what their defunct pension would have paid out until their estimated times of deaths. Along the way as the plan is sold, and then hatched, we see the home life of each of these guys, along with their interactions. Juicing things up is a subplot for Arkin in which he must fend off the advances of the lovely Ann-Margret, who seems to have the hots for him. (By the way she seems to have stopped time, looking like a million bucks herself in her 70s now.)
It is fun to see these veteran stars given a vehicle that is actually about them and the plight of seniors, who these days are threatened at every turn with not being able to make a living good enough to last until they die. In a more serious vein, the recent Oscar-nominated Hell Or High Water dealt with the effect of the banks taking over the little guy, and now this film seems equally well-timed to make an impact — albeit one that uses broad comedy in spots to drive its points home.
Clearly this is what you might call an AARP movie, but what is wrong with that? The chance to see Caine, Freeman and Arkin — not to mention Ann-Margret — again on the big screen is irresistible stuff. A supporting cast also scores, with some particularly funny and poignant moments provided by Christopher Lloyd as another friend dealing with the effects of aging. Matt Dillon does very well as the FBI agent on the trail of these “criminals.” Kenan Thompson also has some choice scenes. I won’t spoil the plot if you happened to have seen the 1979 version except to say this is not your father’s Going In Style, but it is still a wonderful opportunity to see a treasured cast in a movie that could be equally appealing to a younger generation if they just let these old dogs show them some new tricks. Donald De Line is the producer and Warner Bros released the movie today.
Do you plan to see Going In Style? Let us know what you think.