Appearing in the film, but not present on Opening Night, was Julianna Margulies, better-known for her roles on television’s “E.R.” and “The Good Wife.” Newcomers who graced the stage with the legends were Addison Timlin, (who played Alex, Walken’s granddaughter, in the film), and Vanessa Ferlito, (who plays a girl found nude in the trunk of a car.)
If I had to compare Pacino’s lead role here with his previous performances, I’d place it on a par with 2008’s “Righteous Kill,” where Pacino played Rooster, running around in track suits with an over-the-hill Robert DeNiro. If you want to talk previous comic roles (not Pacino’s forte) there is 1985’s “Revolution,” in which Pacino played Tom Dobb. Also not his finest hour.
The film was quite similar to the plot of last year’s opening night film, “The Last Rites of Joe May,” which co-starred Dennis Farina and Gary Cole. That film, even if it had less well-known stars, was better. Each film’s plot involves old guys getting out of prison (a la Michael Douglas in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”) and wanting to get the old gang together one more time.
As scripted by first-time script writer Noah Haidle, there just wasn’t much to cheer for at this World Premiere. With actors as fine as Pacino, Margulies , Walken and Arkin, it could have been a good film, if the words they were given to speak were good. They weren’t.
It’s sad to watch actors try to play parts that they are too old to play. [“The Expendables” are expendable, in my movie-going life.] Watching Pacino visit a whorehouse known as Miss Dee’s after his release from prison wasn’t a good idea. When he can’t get it up, he takes too many Viagra (and other substances) and ends up in the emergency room with Julianna Margulies (playing Alan Arkin’s daughter) treating his chemically-induced priapism.
The entire fixation with the Miss Dee scenes comes off as though it were written by a male fixated, sexually, at about the age of sixteen. And why must all the hookers be in their twenties, when the male members (pun intended) are in their seventies? There are no prostitutes in their forties or older? Is that the message? Does not sound plausible.
For me, watching one of the greatest serious actors of our time play comedy was just uncomfortable. The lines weren’t funny. The humor was strained and juvenile and the vehicle, overall, was not worthy of the talents of the cast. The “best” role probably belonged to Alan Arkin as Hirsch, but even Arkin’s time onscreen ended up making me feel embarrassed for him, when considered next to his great comic turn alongside Peter Falk in the (original) film “The In-Laws.”
Perhaps it’s just me, but I pray that Al Pacino sticks to more appropriate role(s) (he’ll be 73 in April) in films like his brilliant turn as Jack Kevorkian in that recent made-for-television movie (“You Don’t Know Jack”), rather than having an Opening Night audience watching him squander his considerable talents on drivel with lines like “You still got it, buddy,” and “Those were the days, my friend.” (Christopher Walken).
The added tension—which is very low-key—comes because Walken was hired by Claphands (Mark Margolis) to kill Pacino for the accidental murder of Claphands’ son 28 years earlier. The denouement (when it limps into view) seems as though it would have occurred to the duo as a course of action much earlier in the film.
Okay. Time to hang up the action pictures, Mr. Pacino. Time to portray the intense King Lear-type roles that have always suited an actor like Pacino . No more “Expendables” or “Space Cowboys” or other drivel casting aging stars as guys who can still hang with the younger crowd. It’s sad to no longer be in your “Glory Days.” But there are still age-appropriate roles for actors as talented as these three, and I hope I see them in some soon. I don’t want to see more miscasting like Michael Caine playing a soccer star in “Victory” (1981). And I want to hear better lines than the ones I heard in this vehicle, because the script really does matter.
One line (repeated twice) is supposed to be clever: “We’re either going to kick ass or chew gum..and I’m fresh out of gum.” (Groan) Another line: “Claphands is the kind of guy who would take your kidneys out and not even sell ‘em.” [Ha, ha…not.]
Even “more cow bell” would have been stronger scripting than was heard on October 11, 2012, in “Stand Up Guys’” World Premiere at the Chicago Film Festival.