Stand Up Guys
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Stand Up Guys is a crime comedy starring Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, Alan Arkin as three septuagenarian criminals who are reunited over one long night. Questions of loyalty and consequences come up from time to time, though the movie doesn't explore these themes very deeply. Violence is an issue, with a fair amount of fighting, punching, shooting, and blood. There's also sexual content: Characters take Viagra and have sex with prostitutes (off screen), one character sleeps with two women at once (also off screen), and a woman is found naked in a trunk, though no sensitive body parts are shown. Language is strong, with multiple uses of "s--t," "f--k," and more. Characters drink plenty of alcohol and smoke cigarettes over the course of their long night, and they have a supply of prescription pills. (One character breaks open the capsules and experiments with snorting them.) Teens may not be interested in this story of older guys, but those who are need to be mature enough to handle the content.
What's the story?
When Val (Al Pacino) is released from a long prison term, his old friend Doc (Christopher Walken) is there to pick him up. Unfortunately, Doc has an agenda. A crime boss has ordered Doc to kill Val as payback for an accidental murder committed years earlier. Val eventually figures out what Doc is up to, but they quietly decide to spend a final night on the town instead, going so far as to kidnap another old pal, Hirsch (Alan Arkin), from a rest home. As the night wears on -- with eating, drinking, hooking up with prostitutes, smoking, stealing cars, getting into fights, etc. -- the question looms ever larger: What is Doc going to do?
Is it any good?
Stand Up Guys seems like a throwback to the 1990s, walking in the footsteps of both Pulp Fiction and Grumpy Old Men. But happily, director Fisher Stevens is a character actor himself -- in addition to being an Oscar-winning producer (The Cove) -- and he lovingly coaxes relaxed, organic performances from the three great veteran performers. They have an easy chemistry together, and they actually seem to have years of history together. Their unspoken language and shorthand is perhaps even more effective than the scripted dialogue.
The movie also develops a low-key tone, which downplays the very obvious gags, such as the overdose of Viagra, and all the "old guy vs. young guy" barbs. Many viewers will probably feel that the material is overall too slight to warrant much enthusiasm -- for example, it's nowhere near as sharp as Seven Psychopaths -- but for many others it will be an amiable time-waster, capable of producing many smiles.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Stand Up Guys' violence. How frequently is it shown? How does it build up over the course of the story? How much of it is necessary to the story?
In one scene, the characters discuss "consequences" for bullies' actions. What do these consequences consist of? Is this a good way to deal with bullies?
The movie has several jokes and lines about "old school" tactics over "new" things. Are there certain old ways that are better than new ways? What about the other way around?