Stand Up Guys Review

by Stephen Bourne (iamstephenbourne AT gmail DOT com)
February 3rd, 2013

Stand Up Guys (2013)
USA, 95 minutes, Rated 14A (ON) 13+ (QC) Reviewed 02/13, (c) Stephen Bourne

Long-time stage and screen character actor Fisher Stevens takes the dubious helm directing this cliché riddled and story-unimportant, small indie film showcasing Al Pacino as the all too familiar bombastic movie persona of Al Pacino, eating up the scenery opposite Christopher Walken performing, well y'know, a distilled caricature of virtually every memorable cinematic role ever played by Christopher Walken.

Sure, the premise is a promising one: Grizzled, impetuous ex-con Val (Pacino) tearing through town in an escalating gorge fest of vice and violence after being released from his 28-year sentence into the torn care of his retired and introspective cohort Doc (Walken). Stand Up Guys is definitely a treat for diehard fans of both these Hollywood heavies, worthy of shelf space in any true completist's library, right beside Gigli (2003) - the last time Pacino and Walken were seen in the same film, if not together on-screen. Based solely on the vast and unobstructed elbow room in which they're given to work, in what is apparently their first headlining gig together, this feature is an absolute dream for actors of any calibre, and for most who love them unconditionally. Not so much for fans of great movies, though.

While cinematographer Michael Grady's lens wonderfully captures the immense wealth of unspoken drama and nuance effortlessly presented by these film legends from beginning to closing credits, the dialogue feels like lame Tarantino-inspired improv throughout. There's nothing notable to support what Pacino and Walken bring. Director Stevens seems to completely step aside, happy to indulge his stars riffing non sequiturs off of each other ad nausea. Without direction. Ugh. Noah Haidle's wisp of a screenplay merely offers up a meandering muddle of unimaginative contrivances and lazy pastiche that serve little purpose other than to obediently change the scenery each time Pacino and Walken are done vaporizing every square inch of air with their ham and cheese playtime in front of the camera.

Solution: If Haidle had added the element of self-aware effacement, where you see Pacino and Walken actively winking at the audience as well as sporadically making fun of their famous typecasting and how it plays out here, Stand Up Guys could have been worthy of their talent and that of their supporting cast members including Alan Arkin, Julianna Margulies, and Addison Timlin, as Val and Doc's aged partner in crime Hirsch, his daughter Nina, and diner waitress Alex respectively. It would have had something to say. Perspective instead of novelty. Legs. Just that small adjustment would have made this feature a definite must-see homage to the individual cache of acclaimed work from both Pacino and Walken over the decades. As is, Stand Up Guys is pointlessly empty.

Checking out the official website at doesn't particularly bring anything beyond the film synopsis and crew info, a few scene stills and a couple of videos, plus links to the soundtrack that includes Jon Bon Jovi's original tunes for this flick. A wallpaper variation of the fairly boring-looking poster is also available for download. It's an over-all nice enough site design using Flash and simple parallax scrolling, but nothing memorable.
All self-indulgent penny ante flash bereft of substance, Stand Up Guys falls flat at being little more than an unimaginative, cheap showcase for Pacino and Walken to cash in on what's left of their ticket-selling fame by impersonating their screen personas and retracing tired territory without taking the opportunity to give moviegoers something fresh or a reason to care that these are two of the finest living A-list actors of our time. Disappointing and barely worth a look, this one truly is a talent-wasting crime. Reviewed 02/13, (c) Stephen Bourne.

Stand Up Guys is rated 14A by the Ontario Film Review Board for coarse language, sexual references, substance abuse, embracing and kissing, mild sexual innuendo, tobacco use, and restrained portrayals of non-graphic violence, and is rated 13+ by la Régie du Cinéma in Québec.
More reviews:

Tags: Stand Up Guys, Al Pacino, Christopher Walken Tags: moviequips, movie review, Ottawa, Canada Tags: False Idols, bad film

More on 'Stand Up Guys'...

Originally posted in the newsgroup. Copyright belongs to original author unless otherwise stated. We take no responsibilities nor do we endorse the contents of this review.