Time Out São Paulo

Standup Guys: review

Standup Guys: review

Opens 5 Apr 2013

Director Fisher Stevens

Cast Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Julianna Margulies

Fresh out of prison after a 28-year stint, career criminal Val (Al Pacino) is picked up at the gate by his old partner, Doc (Christopher Walken). The duo make some catch-up small talk, but all Val really wants to do is ‘party’, which Pacino pronounces, in a shape-of-things-to-come sort of way, as ‘potty’. Doc goes along willingly to both the local whorehouse and the singles bar to help his friend indulge. Yet he’s clearly in the dumps about something – namely, that he’s been contracted by a vicious mob boss to kill Val for a long-ago transgression.

This moronically unfunny gangster comedy fluctuates wildly between the lowest-of-low humour and pity-the-aged-man pathos, and offers further evidence that the best days are behind its iconic cast members. At least Walken’s sub-Tarantino posturing is counterbalanced by his stellar recent work in A Late Quartet and Seven Psychopaths; meanwhile, third wheel Alan Arkin drifts with paycheck-cashing glibness through his glorified cameo as a former getaway driver.

Then there’s the exhausted-looking Pacino, who has been coasting long enough that this latest lazy performance feels uniquely depressing. He flails helplessly through torturously dragged-out gag sequences – the Viagra-overdose set piece is some kind of career nadir – and courts cheap-seats sentiment with a number of bathetic reminiscences about the old days. It’s hard to believe that this is the same man who once riled up the crowd with street-theatre cries of ‘Attica’ and commanded the screen with bug-eyed intensity in Glengarry Glen Ross and Heat. US cinema’s thrillingly rabid mongrel has become an obsequiously pitiable mutt.

By Keith Uhlich


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