If you want to hang with a trio of old-coot charmers, you could do worse than Going in Style, a comic softball that, for the price of a movie ticket, puts you in the pleasurable company of Morgan Freeman, 79, Alan Arkin, 83, and Michael Caine, 84. The movie is no bargain, but the actors keep delivering dividends.
Constructed from the blueprint set in 1979 by director Martin Brest and now-deceased stars George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg, this remake is the same tired piffle about three Brooklyn-based seniors who decide to rob a bank. This new version, directed with a sitcom-anvil touch by actor Zach Braff from a flimsy script by Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures), at least does its audience a favor by bypassing the expected jokes about erectile dysfunction. Plus the topicality and villainy come in the form of corporate greed – a nice touch given that one of the film's executive producers is Trump's Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Caine's character, Joe, is at war with a New York bank that has tripled his mortgage payments. His best buds, Willie (Freeman) and Albert (Arkin) are also mad as hell, given that the steel company they slaved for is outsourcing to Vietnam and vaporizing their pensions. (Robbing the evil financial institutions is always the best revenge, it seems – see last year's Hell or High Water.) The codgers watch Dog Day Afternoon as primer in what not to do, enlist the services of a professional thief (John Ortiz) and resort to being adorable when all else fails, which it does, quite often. Arkin wins the prize for not flashing a cute twinkle every single time a plot hole needs to be covered. His flirty scenes with the wonderful Ann-Margret as a supermarket manager are a much-needed bright spot.
There are times when Braff and Melfi hint at the darkness of a world that ignores seniors by making them invisible. But this new version of Going in Style sells uplift so hard it loses touch with reality – and any genuine reason for being.