Going in Style
By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Comedy remake has lovable leads, some language, drugs.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Even though the central plot is about a bank robbery, this is a story about friendship and the various ways society breaks its promises to its elders. Shows that retirees still have desires, dreams, and a need for excitement -- and that they should be taken care of by their communities. Also, that they deserve their "due" after putting in a lifetime of work. Promotes strong bonds between friends and family; themes include perseverance and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Yes, the three men prepare to rob a bank, but they only plan to take what their pension owed them. And they're amazingly loyal and generous with one another. Joe is a devoted grandfather who not only allows his divorced daughter and teen granddaughter to live him with him, but he also takes an interest in training his somewhat clueless ex-son-in-law to be a better a father. Willie is also a wonderful father and grandfather who wants to spend more time with his family, who live out of town. Al is curmudgeonly but also kind and selfless, offering one of his best friends a kidney for a much-needed transplant. Some stereotyping regarding the elderly.
Violence & Scariness
Thieves with machine guns shoot into the air and point their guns at people during an armed robbery at a bank. A bank manager wets himself when a gun is pointed at him.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Several scenes of a couple sighing in satisfaction in bed after having (implied) sex; bare shoulders visible as they hold the sheets over themselves. The same couple flirts, dances, and embraces in other scenes. During an interview, Al tells the police that he made love three times one morning.
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Occasional use of words including one use of "f--k," as well as "s--t," "t-ts," "a--hole," "ass," "bulls--t," "son of a bitch," "hell," "crap," "dammit," "friggin'," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).
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Products & Purchases
One sequence takes place in a supermarket, and there are quick glimpses of several brands: The Baker bread, SPAM, Bud Light, Zico coconut water, and The Bachelorette.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink beer at a social hall and champagne at a dinner/reception. The three main characters get drunk one night. Two of the three friends smoke a joint with their robbery consultant. Joe's former son-in-law runs a medical marijuana dispensary. The characters then act high and get the munchies.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Going in Style, which stars Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin, is a remake of a 1979 caper comedy. Directed by Zach Braff, the heist comedy has a bit of salty language ("s--t," "a--hole," "ass," "damn"), as well as some suggestive scenes of a couple in bed (always after the implied love-making has happened -- never full love scenes), and a few moments when the main characters drink or smoke pot. But mostly they just drink bad coffee and eat pie. Although it's about a bank robbery (and does include scenes of guns being brandished and fired), this is a Robin Hood tale, and the men are so endearing and family oriented that the messages end up being positive, conveying themes of teamwork and perseverance.
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Going in Style
Based on 7 parent reviews
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Funny but with wrong messages
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What's the Story?
GOING IN STYLE is Zach Braff's remake of Martin Brest's popular 1979 heist comedy starring George Burns, Lee Strasburg, and Art Carney. In this update, Joe (Michael Caine) is at his Brooklyn bank dealing with a foreclosure notice when armed thieves swoop in and rob it. When Joe and his best friends/neighbors Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Al (Alan Arkin) find out that the steel company where they worked for more than 30 years is no longer going to honor their pensions, Joe convinces his pals to rob their bank for exactly what the pension owes them. Thanks to an intro from Joe's former son-in-law, who runs a medical marijuana dispensary, Joe and the guys take bank robbery lessons from a criminal consultant (John Ortiz) whose legitimate business is a local pet shop. Meanwhile, Al starts a romance with beautiful supermarket clerk Annie (Ann-Margret), and Willie tries to hide the fact he needs a kidney transplant.
Is It Any Good?
Freeman, Caine, and Arkin's average age might be 82, but they prove that they still have lots to teach younger actors about comedic timing, charm, and on-screen camaraderie in this feel-good remake. Going in Style is a mix of the friendship chemistry in Ocean's Eleven and the morality behind the crime lesson in Hell or High Water (without the excessive violence). Sure, there's a cop -- in this case, an FBI agent played by Matt Dillon -- but this isn't as much a cat-and-mouse crime thriller as it is a humorous look at how three wronged older men decide to take revenge on the company that ruined their retirement.
The three main characters just want to visit their children, have bad coffee and pie at a diner, and finish paying off their mortgages. Arkin is a curmudgeonly delight as a bachelor finding love when he least expected it. Freeman is a sweet grandfather in renal failure who knows his days are limited. And Joe wants to ensure that his daughter and granddaughter can continue living in his house as long they need to. We won't spoil what happens during or after the caper, but we will say that Braff manages to keep the spirit of the original film while making the story even more relevant and giving it the ending it deserves.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the messages of Going in Style. Is it OK to sympathize with characters who are planning a bank robbery? How does their story convey themes of perseverance and teamwork?
Who's a role model in this movie? Why does a robbery seem like less of an issue when we know what it's for than when it's just for the sake of making the money?
How is sex treated/shown in the movie? Is there a difference between portraying sexuality and romance between seniors and younger couples? Why?
Is lying to protect someone OK? Would your answer change if you disagreed with their motives?
Why do you think it's novel to have a movie starring/about characters in their 70s?
- In theaters: April 7, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: August 1, 2017
- Cast: Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin
- Director: Zach Braff
- Inclusion Information: Black actors
- Studio: New Line Cinema
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Character Strengths: Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: drug content, language and some suggestive material
- Last updated: December 11, 2022
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