Even the best idea can be doomed to fail if the right people aren’t involved. Take the time they hired Roseanne Barr to sing the National Anthem at the 1990 San Diego Padres game. Or when Australian farmers requested military assistance to rid their lands of the ever-hungry and not at all timid emus (the humans lost). The vast universe of moving pictures making also has a considerable roster of disappointments that spiraled into the ground like a balsa wood skyscraper from an Irwin Allen film. Take that remake of The Pink Panther, for example. While it wasn’t completely necessary to make at all, they really dropped the ball. And let’s not forget that epic Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez disaster, Gigli — which, thanks to the popularity of its two stars, was completely reedited into a bombastic comedy.
What’s more, Gigli also failed to utilize the potential of onscreen chemistry by supporting performers Al Pacino and Christopher Walken. Well, nearly ten years down the line since that cinematic catastrophe came and went, someone decided to rectify that situation by finally casting them together in starring roles. They even upped the probability of genuine awesomeness by bringing the great Alan Arkin in to appear with them. Sadly, the same people brushed off an unused screenplay that was evidently in dire need of some polishing and hired a fairly inexperienced director to do the job. The result: Stand Up Guys — a slow-moving and ultimately unfulfilling picture about a trio of aged mobsters that is highlighted (provided that’s the correct word to use in this instance) by original compositions by Jon Bon Jovi.
Well, two of ’em, really. Here’s where one of the biggest disappointments of the film lies: Alan Arkin doesn’t have a lot of screen time, and his exit from the feature positively reeks of poor writing. Granted, director Fisher Stevens doesn’t do much to help things. As a matter of fact, the way the camera just sort of lingers there in even the most interesting of scenes, I’d say he did very little to begin with other than snorted a line of cocaine, shot back a quadruple shot of Starbucks espresso, and yelled “Action!,” shortly before the poor guy succumbed to a humiliating and completely unexpected catnap in his rent-a-director’s-chair, leaving someone else in the crew — probably the donut guy — to call the shots.
What’s that? Too mean? Tough. This movie could have been so much better. So, anyhoo, our story finds Al Pacino (a fellow that has desperately been looking for something resembling redemption in film for a long time now) being released from prison after a lengthy incarceration. Waiting for him at the gates is his old partner in crime, Christopher Walken. It’s a scene that is all-too-reminiscent of the beginning of The Blues Brothers — only it’s not at all good. Chris seems to be shameful of something (other than signing on to make the film, that is). As it turns out, he’s been ordered to kill his old pal by 10:00am the following day by their old mobster boss (Mark Margolis, who literally phones his performance in here), whose only son was accidentally killed by Pacino in the bloody shootout that landed our star in the slammer in the first place.
Al, of course, realizes this — and is determined to get all of his vices out of his system: booze, drugs, broads, what have you. This also includes stealing a car from a local gang of no-good douchebags. Eventually, they decide to bail their old getaway driver (Arkin) out of the convalescing home he’s currently confined to, which leads to what goddamn well should have been a truly epic moment in the entire fucking history of moving film ever: the three of them speeding around the city in a stolen sports car with Arkin at the helm. It doesn’t work, though. I even tried to force myself to laugh over it. It still didn’t happen. It was like trying to laugh at your own defeat by a huge flock of emus.
Actually, I think that would have been far more amusing.
Julianna Margulies co-stars as Arkin’s daughter (they share no scenes together), Lucy Punch is a Madame, Vanessa Ferlito is a gang-rape victim the trio find in the trunk of their stolen car (and whom the help exact revenge for, in another scene that is completely done wrong), and a young cutie by the name of Addison Timlin appears as the waitress at Walken’s favorite diner. The writing credit for this dud is attributed to the completely unknown Noah Haidle, who previously penned two shorts you’ve probably never seen. Interestingly, one of them (High Street Plumbing) involved two guys stealing an FBI surveillance van — and reportedly features Mr. Haidle himself as “Donut Guy.” Hmm, perhaps he was the one who stepped in to fill the director’s shoes when he passed out.
Lionsgate picked this turkey up for distribution, and presents it here in a Blu-ray/Digital/UltraViolet Combo pack with a visually appealing 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC transfer that adroitly presents the film’s gloomy nighttime settings, their various stages of lighting, and the colors and black levels that are contained therein. The film’s accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack also gives more of a hoot to this title than its makers apparently were capable of, delivering the proper amounts of effects where needed, and bringing out the best from the film’s bad dialogue. Special features include a commentary by Fisher Stevens, three behind-the-scenes/making-of featurettes, and a couple of deleted scenes.
In short: “So much potential. So little realization. So sad.”