I have to admit, when I went to see Going In Style in cinemas I was expecting, not a bad movie, but a movie that would simply serve to pass the time while giving a few laughs. Instead I found very charming movie with that, along with serving laughs, had a message and something to say. I found something charming and enjoyable. This review will contain spoilers, but you can skip down to the last two paragraphs of the review for a brief summary that won’t spoil anything, if you want to decide whether you want to see it or not.
Going In Style stars Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin. All of them, being aging actors, play three old men, who are all best friends, that want to rob a bank. ‘Why’, I hear you ask; Because the company they have worked for, for forty years, has cancelled their pension money for all their employees in order to pay off other debts. This leaves our main characters in the least favourable financial place possible.
It’s worth mentioning now that what I like about this movie is that it isn’t just silliness. And this movie is a comedy, so of course it is fun and stimulating, but it also explores serious themes. The first half of this movie is quite serious and emotional as it tells us Joe (Michael Caine) is going to be evicted from his home, which would mean he, his daughter and grand daughter would all essentially be homeless. We see Albert (Alan Arkin) struggling to accept company in his life or change, as he rejects any advances anyone makes on him. Finally we gain sight that Willie (Morgan Freeman) has some kind of kidney failure and that he’s going to die. To make things worse, the hospital is struggling to find other kidneys for him to have, so it’s not looking good.
With nothing else left to loose, after witnessing a bank robbery himself, Joe decides that robbing a bank is the best course of action. Can you see what I mean? The film uses a silly concept to explore some real issues, and I can respect that as it does it well.
Once Willie and Albert are on board, the three practice their thieving skills in the local super market. This leads to one of the funniest things I have, personally, seen in cinemas for a while now. The sight of Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman stealing entire cartons of eggs, large pork-chops and chickens while Alan Arkin is unable to help, because a shop assistant won’t stop flirting with him, is funny as all hell. Also watching Michael Caine steal an old lady’s mobility scooter, with Morgan Freeman riding in the front basket as they drive through traffic to escape shop security, is also something worth seeing.
The three get caught and decide they need professional help… To rob the bank that is. After Joe talks to a few contacts he finds a “low-life” who will help train them to rob the bank. After putting together alibis, getting gear and practicing the timing of everything the three are ready and rob the place. Willie, however, finds it hard to breathe under his mask due to his health issues and collapses. He is saved, however, when a little girl removes his mask slightly (up to his mouth) to allow him to breathe. Willie thanks the man and they all leave.
This leads to one of the many scenes that make this film so charming.
The three are put in a line up by the police and the little girl who saw Willie’s face is asked to identify who was involved in the robbery. The girl recognises Willie but doesn’t tell the police he was involved, because Willie had told her about missing his granddaughter and family during the robbery. Instead she says she didn’t recognise any suspects. The emotion behind the scene is hard to express through writing and, of course, how you connect to a film or any piece of media is subjective to how much you, as an individual, are enjoying it. To try and summaries it, there is just something inherently nice about watching a little girl refusing to give up information because she wants the suspect, Willie, to be able to see his family. And there are many charming scenes in this film revolving around family, relationships, health and friendship, but I think this one takes the cake because of how connected I became, as a viewer, to these characters. It is silly, I know. No little girl would withhold this information in real, if they recognised a suspect. But in the context of the film, this scene was just so warm and nice, and kind that I think it takes the cake as the most charming moment.
After the three are removed as possible suspects to the crime and have the money back from the heist, the issue of Willie’s health is raised again as he collapses publicly. This leads to, perhaps, the second most charming and warm moment in the film. Albert decides to donate his kidney to Willie, saving his life, and the two are just lying their on the hospital beds making jokes. This scene of them doing this can summarise the film; Real issues being explored through the use of humour.
Anyway, the film ends with Willie’s life being saved, Joe being able to keep his house and family and Albert getting married to a shop assistant. A happy ending.
So now I have to summarise the film… This film is nothing short of a feel-good film. If you’ve lost your faith in humanity and feel like everyone on Earth is a jack-ass, then this film will make you regain your faith in the human race. It will lay out why humanity sucks and then how friendship and family can help solve the problem. None of it is corny. None of it will make you cringe. Everything in this film is explored reasonably. The silly jokes and funny moments of the film and properly placed, so that the tone of the film is consistent (There’s nothing worse than watching a film that hops from serious-talk to oblivious silliness poorly; But this film does it perfectly by not being too silly, nor too serious). I guess all I have to say now is that this film will make you smile, laugh and connect to the lead characters. It is enjoyable and will be worth your money.
Please go and see this film. I have a feeling that this film won’t do well, despite how well-made it is, because of how stimulated people are with the bombardment of Superhero and action films we have been getting in recent years. I feel like people are going to look at this film and think “this movie stars all old people, not enjoyable”, because every film nowadays is about Hollywood-hunks punching each other. But this film is much better than a solid eighty percent of those punching films because it is funny, witty and actually has a message that goes beyond “Blowing up foreign countries is wrong (Instantly blows up the Kremlin).” And that isn’t to say that these action films don’t have messages, but Going In Style has a more relevant message, and a better one. Please spare some time to watch this film and go to see something different.