Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: George Burns

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


Oh God! (1977)

When I think of what God looks like, I know I don’t think about George Burns.

Buttonholing venerable comedian George Burns for the title role was certainly a divine inspiration! God, in the guise of a wisecracking old gent, decides to makes his presence known to a harried grocery clerk (John Denver) so he can get the message out that “everything on earth can still work if we want it to.”

Going into this film I was expecting to hear a bunch of little rants about religion and how God isn’t real and how he is. Well I didn’t get that, and instead what I got was a very true, if not careful look at the world of religion.

There are plenty of one-liners that make this film very funny. By the end you have this feeling that God isn’t just a funny guy, but probably a really chill guy that you wouldn’t mind hanging out with. The film is directed by Carl Reiner, who instead of making this film very silly and dumb, he brings up this smart and quietly funny story, that all of us can connect to.

But what i really found interesting and it is still so true today, even more so, that even when we do see miracles in our lives right in front of us we still tend to ignore then and credit it to something else. This movie does carry a timeless message that WE are creating our life, that we all have a choice to live a certain way and that everything that is happening in our world is created by us and actually is a reflection by us. But again, it is all our choice to believe it or not. And the only things that we complain about, is truly and simply about ourselves and nothing else.

However, although the humor was there at points it really wasn’t in the film all the way through. For some of these parts I was bored and uninterested until God came back on the screen and made everything funny. Also, this film really doesn’t get strong and effective until the very last 20 minutes. I feel like with a strong message that I basically just stated above, this film could have benefited from that throughout the whole film, but instead choose to use it at the end of the film.

I really did like George Burns as God however. He doesn’t play this stereotypical image we have of God instead he just plays himself, and makes the film a whole lot more funnier with this representation. Surprisingly, John Denver does a better job than I expected. He doesn’t seem too cheesy and more believable as an actor than a country artist. If only he didn’t die too young, or else he could have been in better films. Some guys just don’t have all the luck.

Consensus: Oh God! is good but not terrific. It features a heart-felt message, with good acting, and a smart script, its just that its message wasn’t as effective until the very end of the film.