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Going in Style
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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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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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 ...
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
- Studio: New Line Cinema
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: drug content, language and some suggestive material
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.