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Painless But Sorely Lacking In Laughs Is The Best Way To Describe Going In Style

I really wish Morgan Freeman would go back to doing more dramatic acting work. Who can blame the guy for taking easy paychecks in this late stage of his career (dude’s more than earned it!) but the novelty of seeing this gravely serious man with a voice like no other human being on the planet goofing it up in more light-hearted fare like Batman Begins, Red and The LEGO Movie was fun for a while for sure, especially in The LEGO Movie where he parodied the exact kind of persona he’s always being casted as. But after more than a decade of him lampooning his own image by appearing in genre fare, I dunno, I just wish he’d do more serious films again instead of another Olympus Has Fallen sequel where he just sits in a room for twenty minutes.

Ah well, at least Morgan Freeman, and fellow elderly acting legends Michael Caine and Alan Arkin, get solid paychecks and the chance to headline a motion picture in the new comedy Going In Style that has the trio of actors playing blue-collar workers who, after decades of working for a big company, find themselves laid off and their pensions liquidated. With various ailments (such as foreclosure for Caine’s character and medical issues with kidneys for Freeman’s characters) looming over them, the trio decide to do something dramatic; rob the bank that is holding all of their money that the company refuses to give to them.

Going In Style covers the kind of “everyman-gets-jilted-by-the-rich-and-powerful-in-modern-day-economic-recession” territory that the likes of 99 Homes have recently mind for drama. Here, such dark events that do occur every day for countless poor Americans is utilized for comedy, as the trio of leads try to pull off a bank heist in the name of vengeance against those who took them out of their money despite their inexperience in the world of criminal activity and their age. The results are…OK, inoffensive but quite forgettable. I suppose it’ll fit comfortable as a future fixture of both $5 DVD bins at Wal-Mart and as something people can watch in the morning on TBS.

Honestly, this isn’t really a bad movie, especially when compared to director Zach Braff’s last film, the irritating disaster Wish You Were Here. But it’s also all too easy to see that these three great actors headlining Going In Style deserved better than this, a movie that throws them into hackneyed jokes and broad physical comedy that feel eye-rollingly obvious (for instance, more than a few jokes are mined from their gait that stems from their age). Few of the gags really land as intended, with only Alan Arkin’s constantly cranky personality generating as much as a small smile from me during the running time.

Thankfully, the movie refrains from diving into outright “bad” territory occupied by recently failed comedies like Fist Fight and Office Christmas Party mostly by being too inoffensive to be despicable. Sure, it isn’t all that funny, but few of the comedic misfires are painful and the three leads do bounce off each other well enough to keep it occasionally diverting. These three Hollywood legends have obtained their status as acting mainstays for a reason, and while nothing in here even comes close to approaching their best work, they still make the overly familiar material work better than it would have in less capable hands. Speaking of the cast, there is mild fun to be had in seeing actors like Peter Serafinowicz, Kenan Thompson and Christopher Lloyd (always cool to see Doc Brown show up in a new movie!) pop up in brief roles, even if Lloyd is only around to be the butt of “Look how old he is!” jokes.

Plus, this film has the good sense to keep its running time around the 90-minute mark and Lord only knows there are too many comedies out there that overstay their welcome and then some. Best of all, the film has the good sense to incorporate an incredibly cute pug puppy into a few scenes and good Lord is that puppy ever precious! Basically, Going In Style is the kind of feature film that feels overly derivative and direly lacks laughs thanks to jokes that are so hackneyed I’m surprised they’re not accompanied by a laugh track but it’s also mostly painless primarily because of the strengths of the three lead actors who all deserve better than this forgettable motion picture.