"Trying and Failing at Redemption"
What You Need To Know:
STAND UP GUYS is too laid-back and even slow moving to be anywhere near as entertaining as it should be. Pacino and Walken have some nice rapport between themselves and their closest friends. Overall, however, STAND UP GUYS is too mellow to work successfully as a crime comedy. Its casual morality will offend discerning media-wise viewers, while its lackluster tone will annoy most everyone. STAND UP GUYS also has abundant foul language, some drug references, and strong lewd elements.
(PaPa, B, C, FR, LLL, VV, SS, A, DD, MM) Strong pagan worldview, with some Christian, moral elements but Catholic criminal lies in the confessional booth and makes a false promise about sinning no more; at least 125 obscenities and profanities; strong violence (mainly in two scenes) with little or no bloodshed includes comical car chase escape from a hospital and a slow-motion, hyper-stylized gunfight at the finale that implies the leads will go out shooting in the manner of the classic ending of BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID; strong sexual content includes man heads straight for a brothel after being released from prison but can’t perform so he and his friend steal Viagra and other prescription drugs from a pharmacy and man takes too many Viagra pills and has to go the hospital to get a shot; no nudity; alcohol use; smoking, brief marijuana use, and a reference to cocaine use; and, stealing, betrayal, backstabbing, deceit, criminal lifestyles.
STAND UP GUYS is a crime caper about two aged hit men trying to reunite with a third former associate to engage in one last caper. STAND UP GUYS has a strong pagan worldview offset slightly by the leads’ regrets in old age as they briefly consider the consequences of their criminal lifestyle, but there’s abundant foul language, drug use, and one character abuses the Catholic sacrament of confession.
The movie opens with a career thief named Val (Al Pacino) getting released on parole from prison after a lengthy sentence. His old partner in crime, Doc (Christopher Walken), picks him up. Val immediately gets taken to a secret brothel and proceeds to have a few drinks and attempt to have sex with a hooker, but he can’t perform. So, he and Doc rob a drugstore of Viagra and other prescriptions drugs that they need. Val gets an assist from the drugs but he took too many and has to go to the hospital to get a shot. This scene is handled very crudely.
Meanwhile, Val and Doc find out their other crime partner Hirsch (Alan Arkin) is homebound and on the edge of death. They try to break him out of the hospital, but he dies shortly after a car chase ensues as officials try to get him back in the ward.
The rest of the plotting consists of the fact that Doc has been forced by a crime boss to promise to shoot Val. Doc is torn about carrying out the assignment since he and Val are old friends. The crime boss wants revenge for the fact that they killed his son nearly 30 years before. Ultimately, Doc confesses his dilemma to Val and says he can’t kill him. So, they decide to attack the crime boss and his henchmen with a final shootout as the credits approach. They would rather go out in control of their actions than fade away like Hirsch or be ordered to kill each other by the crime boss.
Before the final shootout, Val has confession with a priest and admits all his many sins but makes a false promise to try and sin no more when his confession concludes. That’s because he’s only there to clear his conscience before engaging in what he knows will be a battle to the death. [SPOILERS FOLLOW] One of the men leaves a stash of formerly stolen money for his struggling daughter before he goes off to face death. Later, she is seen gratefully finding the money even though it’s illicit gains.
STAND UP GUYS has a skewed moral perspective throughout. The two lead characters hold high standards for loyalty and personal decorum on their criminal jobs. They are seen as cool, noble men from the past, a dying breed, rather than as criminals to be feared or condemned. While they occasionally express regret or sadness for the way they’ve lived their lives, they stay positively portrayed throughout the movie. Also, Pacino’s character uses the Catholic sacrament of Confession as an easy way to absolve himself of his wrongdoings before engaging in one final epic wrongdoing with a gun battle.
The movie’s tone is too laid-back and often slow to be anywhere near as entertaining as it should be. Pacino and Walken have some nice rapport between themselves and their closest friends. Overall, however, STAND UP GUYS is too mellow a movie to be engaging in the framework of the crime comedy genre. Its casual morality will offend discerning media-wise viewers, while its overall lackluster tone will annoy most everyone.