Movie Ramblings: Stand Up Guys


Al Pacino and Christopher Walken star in a kind of reversed buddy movie.  Instead of being 2 disparate characters who, over the course of the story and adversity, become friends, they play two old friends with a very strong bond who look like they are going to be driven apart by old wounds and divided loyalties.
The film starts slowly, introducing the characters and their relationship.  Val (Pacino) has been in prison for a long time and Doc (Walken) has come to meet him when he gets out. After spending some time reminiscing and catching up on missed drinking, partying and drug taking, it becomes clear that Doc has other motives for meeting Val than old friendship.

Catching up with old buddies
Catching up with old buddies

At this point the film seems to wake up a bit.  Until now the actors just seem to be going through the numbers, nothing particularly interesting or exciting. Once the secret is out, things get a bit more interesting as the pair collect some old friends and meet a few new ones as they go on some exciting adventures across town. Most of this is shown in the trailer so there won’t be too many spoilers here… They bust an old friend out of an old peoples home, steal a car, get in a chase with the police, use the services of prostitutes and beat up gangsters who have wronged a new friend.

Some old guys try to work out how to drive a newfangled car they have stolen
Some old guys try to work out how to drive a newfangled car they have stolen

The joke in all of these cases is exactly the same: look, some old people doing the kind of things that only young people usually do in films! However, most of the scenes are presented in a fun and stylish way and the capers are amusing enough to distract from the one-trick nature of the middle section of the film.

Things get a bit more serious and tear-jerking in the third reel as Val wrestles with the task he has been set and the consequences of not completing it become clear. Although the ending is pretty cliched, I genuinely wasn’t sure which way it was going to go until it actually happened. Not a brilliant film but reasonably entertaining and with an ending that is just worth waiting through the first 80 minutes or so.



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