Stand Up Guys


When Valentine (Al Pacino) is freed from prison after 28 years, he finds his best friend Doc (Christopher Walken) there to pick him up. What he doesn’t realize is that Doc has also been charged with killing him, as payback for a wrong incurred during the hold-up that got Val sent away all those years ago.

Once he’s out however, Val turns his last day into a real hurrah, and drags Doc along with him. Now Doc is left with a choice to make. Should he kill his best friend? Or embrace this new carpe diem sentiment and get back into the game of life?

Doc and Valentine are two old wise guys who go way back. Nearly three decades ago, Valentine (Al Pacino) got pinched after a robbery gone wrong. He never ratted, and wound up doing 28 years. But the head of the mob, “Claphands”, wants Val taken out for the things that went wrong, and he’s charged Doc (Christopher Walken) with doing the deed.

Doc takes Valentine around town, showing him a good time, initially under the pretenses of getting Val to lower his guard so that he can do the deed. But eventually, Val’s enthusiasm starts to win him over. Doc has been retired and living the easy life for too long, and this reckless abandon that Val is showing is getting his blood pumping again. Together they rob stores, square off against much younger mob guys, hook up with hookers, steal a car, and eventually, break their buddy (Alan Arkin) out of his nursing home.

All the while though, the clock is ticking towards Doc’s deadline for doing away with Val.

It’s a geriatric gangster film, with a touch of heart and some fun comedy. From what I see, reviews are poor, but once again I’ll step out on a limb and defend a poorly reviewed movie. Essentially, the plot is a bit contrived, there are elements that come into play that certainly fall into the “Yeah, right”, category, including one mildly regrettable subplot where they help a wronged woman get revenge. But for the most part, “Stand Up Guys” is a movie about men who are aware that they’re close to the end of their lives, making decisions based on the fact that no one is there for them or cares for them, so why not live it up in their last few days?

So while other critics will probably harp on some of the more unfeasible elements of the plot, I’m going to hang my hat on the characters and the actors and say I really, really enjoyed this film. Walken, Pacino and Arkin all have their moments where they’ll make you laugh, or make you sympathize with them. Once the three of them get going on their hijinks, it’ll be hard not to smile, and once they experience some of the consequences of their actions (both from that night and from their lives), it’ll be hard not to grimace a little. It’s a nice mix, though, of fun and feeling, and it features three great actors having a good time, acting their age by playing three guys who don’t want to act their age.

There’s plenty of script issues to go ’round if someone is looking for them, but for me, “Stand Up Guys” was a very, very enjoyable movie about three aging mobsters who throw caution to the wind, with a tale of a man with a Cain and Abel decision to make thrown into the mix as well.


Daniel Fogarty

31 thoughts on “Stand Up Guys

  1. Good review Fogs. I’m surprised that so many people are actually liking it. I mean, I get that all movies are subjective, but I guess I’m just a d-bag when it comes to movies. The three in this cast are good, but everything else just seemed to fall-apart for me. I don’t know, maybe I was just in a bad mood or something.

    • Heh heh. You know? I actually saw your review and didnt know what to say on this one cause we were so far apart.

      In all honesty, I think maybe you’re not connecting with the “Old” element. In twenty years or so, maybe the plight of these characters is going to ring a little truer. πŸ˜‰

  2. Walken…I bow down before that man. He had me at “Mouse Hunt.”

    And I like this new theme of old people kicking ass. Red 2, anyone?

      • Aha. You are doubtful of Red. Hm. But yes, Walken is doing very well, and he’s just one of those guys that makes me laugh without doing anything. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. (Don’t even think Seth Rogen. Don’t DO it.)

  3. Sounds like it could be a sort of spiritual successor to Tough Guys (though I doubt anybody involved remembers that film). Might be fun; I’ll remember to give it a look some time.

    • I dont think Ive seen it, but I do know the movie you’re referring to. Kirk Douglas and somebody, right?

      IMDb says Burt Lancaster. Yeah, I remember the movie, but I know I’ve never seen it. Maybe it is, maybe it is. Anyways, I liked it. Give it a shot. πŸ˜‰

  4. Big disappointment. The one scene of worth was Pacinos’ grave- side speech “you die two deaths”. The rest was as passe as their old suits. Walking,talking stereotypes.

  5. Have seen this and although the actors were good, the material just wasn’t funny. I was very disappointed by it. Happy to hear you got more out of it than I did.

  6. Hi, Fogs and company:

    Color me intrigued. The more I heard and saw about ‘Stand Up Guys’ in its trailers and ads. The more it sounded like Robert Mitchum’s last night on earth in ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’. Though with a lot more suspense and high jinx.

    Walken’s always good for a morbid laugh or two, as seen in ‘Suicide Kings’. So I’ll put this one my list to see.

    Nicely done, my friend!

    • Thanks Jack! Yeah, check it out and keep your expectations low and you’ll do fine.

      I havent seen Eddie Coyle, but I have heard of it. Not sure how this would measure up.

      Walken, if anything plays the straight men role here… which initially I thought was a waste, but it all turns out alright. There’s definitely lots of laughs to be had.

      • Hi, Fogs:

        Oh, no doubt ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ would be more down beat. But Mitchum is fantastic as a slow moving two time loser and snitch for the locals and Feds in Boston. In a very faithful adaptation of the George V. Higgins’ novel.

        Excellent on location shooting as well. Definitely worth watching!

  7. I’ll watch this purely for Pacino & Walken. πŸ™‚

    More looking forward to seeing Al & Bobby reunite for something that isnt Righteous Kill as soon as Scorsese gets things sorted πŸ™‚ Thats the old guys cast Im looking for πŸ˜›

    • Yeah, well, their last collaboration wasn’t exactly remarkable, like you said.

      Pacino has some moments here, if you can get through some of the lesser stuff. Walken too. I laughed when the two of them were trying on suits… a lot of time, I laughed, actually.

  8. Hmm, I think I will give this a shot then. It sounds like it helps to just go in and not dwell too much on the plot. Kind of what I would expect, but hell, I just want to watch Walken/Pacino/Arkin together. Three true legends.

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