Stand Up Guys review (Blu-ray)

Cinema's elder statesmen all seem to be teaming up for films, and actually most of them work rather well. They all allude to their age and as such the films are tailored around those (and other) thoughts. Stand Up Guys sees Pacino and Walken team up for the first time in their careers, which is pretty amazing considering how long they have been around and the kinds of films they have made. Also along for the ride is Arkin, so between the three major roles there is a combined age of more than 200 years – pretty impressive when you see what they can still get up to.

Stand Up Guys concerns Val (Pacino) and Doc (Christopher Walken), two ageing stick-up guys, who are after one last job together. However, Val has only just been released from prison and Doc has been charged with the unenviable task of killing his best friend due to a mob boss’s son dying in a botched robbery that Val was involved in. Along the way they pick up their old wheelman Hirsch (Arkin) and the problem gets more complicated when Doc has only 24 hours to kill him, and yet Val just wants to go out and party on his first night of freedom.

Considering the film is set over a 24-hour period, it zips along with mean enthusiasm and plenty of humour. The comedy is perfectly played between Pacino and Walken – at times, it feels more like watching two friends joke on each other than an actual movie. These guys have such natural ability, such natural zing to their lines that it becomes a screwball comedy when they are together. For once Pacino knows how to reign in his aggressive shouty manner, and delivers a stellar performance. Walken has been doing this type of role for years, so it’s no surprise to see him easily give the set up lines for the jokes.

The crotchety old timer role is from Arkin, but it all soon changes when he finally gets his rocks off with the ladies of the night. Some of his chat up lines are absolute dynamite.

Stand Up Guys looks like an action film, but in fact it’s an old timer comedy with some brilliant acting from immense talents. These guys may be in the later years of their lives,  but they have still got it and it all looks andd feels very natural. This is one of the best comedies of the year, and it shouldn’t be overlooked.

EXTRAS ★★★ An audio commentary with director Stevens; the featurette The Lowdown on Making Stand Up Guys (11:55); the featurette The Stand Up Songs of Jon Bon Jovi (4:47); the featurette American Muscle: The Stand Up Stunt Driving Scenes (5:03); and two deleted scenes (2:22).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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