Comedies nowadays are usually partial to a restricted number of techniques if they have any hope of being successful via popular opinion. Consequentially the genre has largely suffered from a lack of originality, no longer being measured by the sharpness of a writer’s wit or the strength of an actor’s comic timing – but instead garnering its appeal from how ‘shocking ‘it can make its language, how ridiculous its establishing scenario can be and how trivially it can use nudity, violence and slapstick humour to stir its audience. Directed by Scrubs star Zach Braff, Going In Style returns to a refreshingly different type of comedy movie that very much takes a “back to basics” approach in terms of respecting its audience enough to aim to impress them with charmingly funny content rather than shock them with crudity.
Going In Style is a film that very clearly acknowledges that the role aged actors play in most feature films – the two dimensional characters that sit voiceless at the end of the dining table; the deteriorating, the clinically insane, the burden, the traditionalist, the character that’s easy to kill off in a last ditch attempt for emotional substance. Though the real strength of the film’s premise is not just how it acknowledges and rejects these roles – but how it consistently uses them to play off the audience’s assumptions to both remain unpredictable and maintain a subtle, though powerful social commentary.
The entire film is anchored by the performances of Michael Cain, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin. Despite each being incredibly well known and proven actors across a number of genres, not for one second is there a sense of complacency or strain in their performances. Equally impressive is an A-List group of supporting characters including Anne Margaret, Christopher Lloyd, Kenan Thompson, Peter Serafinowicz and Siobhan Fallon who each make lasting impressions regardless of limited screen time. Margaret’s role specifically is another example of Braff challenging the preconceived status more experienced actors have in Hollywood films – portraying an older woman that is both confident and able to embrace her sexuality and pleasure without it being the punchline of a joke.
Make no mistakes, the assertiveness of the film’s premise in no way detracts from the lovable foolery that makes it such a thrill to watch. Not that you’ll need any persuasion; however when faced with three of the greatest actors of the last century giving running commentary to the a series finale of the Bachelor – the ONLY acceptable reaction is pure and unadulterated joy.
Though at times the premise might feel slight overdramatic, Going In Style – much in the same way to a bank heist – never feels anything but considered and choreographed to a tee. Backed by an incredibly able and impressive cast, both in terms of its leading and supporting characters, this film is a heartfelt, sharp and genuinely funny film that is separated from other like-minded romps by an obvious and unparalleled love for the genre by all involved. The energy of the cast is infectious, and audiences will be tested not to leave cinemas grinning from ear to ear.