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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Charles Hallahan

Going in Style (1979)

Every person needs that one last score.

Senior citizens Willie (Lee Strasberg), Al (Art Carney) and Joe (George Burns) all lead relatively boring, mundane lives. Sure, while they’re fine with it, they also know that life has passed them by and, for the most part, they’re just waiting for the day until they pass. It’s a little sad, but hey, they make the best of it. Their lives all change once one of them gets the idea of robbing a bank together, getting stinking, filthy rich and of course, living out the rest of their days in total, absolute luxury. The only issue is that they have to go through with the heist itself, which may be hard for a bunch 70-year-old-men, neither of whom have a criminal record. But still, there’s a certain fun bit of excitement they all feel while planning this heist that makes them feel years younger again and reinvigorates their lives, and everything else around them. But then they pull off the heist, and well, things don’t go as perfectly as planned.

Or perhaps they did.

“1979 already? Sheesh!”

Going in Style, believe it or not, doesn’t have much style, much drive, or even all that much originality to it that makes it the kind of movie worth watching immediately. It’s a perfectly serviceable and fine piece of comedy-drama that, if anything, gets by solely for the fact that it features some of the best comedy-presences to ever grace a screen, together, in their later years, and yes, just having some fun. For most, it may be a bummer that it’s not funnier, or even as exciting as you’d think, but it’s still a movie that features George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg, sitting in a room, talking and being, unsurprisingly, funny.

For that, Going in Style works and it doesn’t have to try too hard to work with that.

Burns is, as usual, sweet and sometimes mean; Carney’s the loudest, most obnoxious one of the bunch, but always seems like he has the biggest heart; and Strasberg is the more softer-spoken of the three, but definitely gets the most emotional movie in the whole scene. Altogether, they’re quite the package; there’s something joyous and absolutely lovely about watching a bunch of old-timers, who know exactly what they’re doing, do it together and act as if they’ve never missed a step. On some occasions, you’ll never know what’s actually scripted, or what they guys are making up as they go along – no matter what, though, they’re having fun working together and as a result, we do, too. It would be hard not to, but trust me, there are movies out there that have wasted a huge group of talented folks, and not given them a single thing to work with that would warrant their talents in the first place.

Think any Adam Sandler movie, for instance.

But regardless, Going in Style does work for the fact that it’s also a tale about aging, growing old, and trying to relive your glory days, when it seems like the rest of the world is there just to tuck you away and forget about you. Director Martin Brest gets some nice moments out of these guys who show us that there’s beyond the old, cranky facades that they often present, and instead, shows us three dudes who just want to bring some life into their later years, any way that they can. If it just so happens to be a robbery, then so be it.

No one will ever look for/find a guy who looks like George Burns, looking like Groucho Marx.

The only issue that the movie runs into is that it is quite uneven and for a movie that’s just a little bit over 90 minutes, it can often feel longer. Why? Well, it’s because the momentum is constantly changing itself, making you believe that it’s going to go down a faster, more exciting route, only to then slow things up and focus more on the melancholy of the plot. Maybe this was intended to work more along with our protagonists, but it could often be frustrating, considering that the heist scene, as well as a gambling scene later on, are both shot well and add a bunch of fun to a movie that can be pretty depressing.

Still, it is a movie about old people, getting older, and realizing that their lives are in fact passing them by and that they can’t do anything else about it, except accept it, move on, and try to make the most of it. So yeah, maybe it’s not the most joyous flick out there, but it’s still one that’s sweet enough, but maybe a little too sad for its own sake? I’m still not sure.

Oh well.

Yeah, just don’t listen to me.

Consensus: With three great talents in the lead roles, Going in Style works both as a comedy, as well as a sweet look at aging, but also can feel uneven.

6.5 / 10

Life is grand, so live it up fellas. For as long as is necessary.

Photos Courtesy of: Three Movie BuffsThe Spinning ImageIMDb

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Dave (1993)

Luckily Barack doesn’t have too many impersonators out there. OR SO WE KNOW OF!!!

Dave Kovic (Kevin Kline) is a simple, small-town man that wears big-rimmed glasses, rides his bike to and fro work, and also run a temp service that isn’t quite as big on making a whole lot of money, as much as it is just all about getting people jobs and having them make money. Oh yeah, and he also has an uncanny resemblance to the 44th president of the United States, William Harrison Mitchell. That eventually comes to work out for him in the future when he’s called upon to be an impersonator for the President in public appearances, just to avoid any problems whatsoever. However, it just so happens that on that same night, the President happens to suffer a stroke while banging his secretary, which leaves all of his right-hand-men stumbling without any idea of what to do. Allow the country to run wild with the sudden-death of their president? And by doing so, do they leak any dirty secrets about what he did during his time as presidency, minus the whole “cheating-on-his-wife” thing? Well, the simple answer is “no”. Instead, they all decide to let Kovic take over the position as acting-President, but only until the actual President himself wakes up and is ready to get back to doing his job. But what if he doesn’t seem to wake up? Even worse, what if the President’s wife (Sigourney Weaver) finds out that this man placed in her husband’s position, actually isn’t her husband?

Yes, there’s so much drama going on here that only a politician during the 90’s would know all about. Ammiright?!?!?

Honestly, would anybody have a problem with him being President?

Honestly, would anybody have a problem with him being President?

Anyway, so yeah, this movie always gets talked-about when you discuss the subgenre of “political comedies” and it’s easy to see why. Not only is the first of its kind during the Clinton-administration, but it’s one of the very rare political-satires that doesn’t really destroy any sort of political-agenda that was being thrown around during that time. Instead, it sticks to whatever “people get jobs and we all stay happy forever and ever” idea it has about politics. Sure, the fact of the matter is that that would never, ever happen in real life, but sure, when you’re watching a movie, let alone a comedy, you don’t really need reality to come in and hit you in the face. All you need is some nice, pure escapism in the finest form and that’s exactly what Dave is, with some snappy jokes thrown in for good measure.

That’s not to say that the movie is at all “dated”, it’s just that some of the humor probably doesn’t hit me nearly as hard, or as effectively as it probably did for those back in the early-90’s. It’s not that I don’t know a thing or two about politics, it’s just that most of this film seems to be playing it so damn safe most of the time, that it’s really hard to find much of anything to really laugh at in the first place. Sure, there are plenty of quips made here that may, or may not catch you off-guard, but they are hardly surprising, nor are they really slap-happy hilarious.

However, where I think most of the film focuses its strengths on is just the overall pleasant, carefree pace that Ivan Reitman sets, which carries the movie through some very sketchy-waters. For instance, there’s the sequence in which the President and the First Lady head-off to a homeless shelter in which they just stand there, say hi to people they wouldn’t bear to be around, had their not been cameras around, and basically just muck it up for the press surrounding them with all of the cameras flashing and recording their every step. We always see this in politics, and it could have easily been seen as a snotty thing for a the President and his wife to do here, however, Reitman handles it with care and always makes it seem like this Dave guy does genuinely mean well, even if he doesn’t know a lick or two about actual politics itself. Especially not how to run a country.

I mean, sheesh! We should have all been happy with Bush Jr. just by looking at this guy! You know?

Too far? Okay, anyway, back to the movie itself.

What you could also attribute most of Dave’s charm to is the performance from the always lovable Kevin Kline, doing another one of his sweet, happy-guy acts. My only complaint about Dave, and well, practically every other character with the meager exception of one in particular, is that we never really get an impression for who these people were before this movie. Yeah, we get the idea that Dave was always a nice, peaceful soul that tried to make those around him happier in life, just by solely giving them what they want, but why is he like that? Better yet, why is it that he’s alone in his life, despite being what some clearly see as “the nicest guy on the face of the planet”. Nobody says that about him in the movie, or even to his face, but it’s pretty much implied with just how much Dave is able to make everyone around him smile, cheerful and just overall, feel better about themselves and their lives.

Or, even him?

Or, even him?

Sort of like how I was, until I started drinking. Then, it was all downhill from there.

Anyway, like I was saying about Dave, I wish I got to know more about him. I guess that was the point of not getting to know who he really is as a person, considering he has to practically impersonate another the whole movie, but just more detail would have gone a long way for him, Regardless though, Kline works well with Dave, giving us a guy we can all stand behind and love, even if he is just being the type of guy who doesn’t ask for much in the first place, and doesn’t want much in return. He’s just that type of cool guy, and that’s mostly how I’d like to imagine Kline is in real life.

Same goes for Sigourney Weaver in terms of her character, although her character doesn’t clearly go so far as “wife who hasn’t the dong in awhile”. Hey, it’s not like Weaver can’t play that role-up to perfection, but I think we’d be able to give her just a bit more to work with. If only a bit, that is. We also get treated some amusing, side roles from the likes of Kevin Dunn, Ving Rhames, Charles Grodin, Laura Linney, Ben Kingsley as that one character I said has some of his past told to us, in a way that isn’t at all manipulative, and a despicable-as-hell, but-clearly-loving-it Frank Langella as what we pretty much expect him to play, “the baddie”. Once again, you can tell that they definitely elevate the material to being a bit more than what it is, which is all we really needed in the first place.

Consensus: Though Dave doesn’t really bite with its satire as much it should, that still doesn’t take it away from being a mildly funny, tame and rather pleasant comedy that’s big on likable characters, rather than laughs. Either way, something here is bound to be liked.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Or, hell, maybe even her?!?!? Too soon? Yeah, you're right.

Or, hell, maybe even her?!?!? Too soon? Yeah, you’re right.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider