Saturday, December 15, 2012

Stand Up Guys

Having flamed out as the world’s unlikeliest leading man after the “Short Circuit” series, Fisher Stevens scoots over to the director’s chair for the far worse “Stand Up Guys,” 95 minutes of dead air that’s as torturous to sit through as the cast list (Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin) would lead you to surmise. The three play ex-hitmen who used to work for a capo named Claphands. His only son was killed by friendly fire in a bungled hit, and Pacino – who never ratted out the others – took the fall and just got sprung from prison after 28 years. Problem is, Claphands has ordered Walken to off Pacino on his first day of freedom – that’s the movie’s idea of deep meaning – so the reluctant Walken and the grandstanding Pacino spend one long last day together, revisiting their ex-madam’s daughter (Lucy Punch), who’s still in her family business, stealing clothes and prescription meds, and stopping at one particular diner about four times.

They also “rescue” Arkin (who has little more than an extended cameo) from his retirement home, and the movie’s one laugh comes when Arkin, roused from a fitful sleep, consents to the escape, then retakes his oxygen mask for “one last hit.” (Julianna Margulies is wasted in a shockingly minor role as Arkin’s daughter). On what planet does this picture take place? The license plates are black with white lettering that says “Drive Safely.” Arkin dies at about 4 A.M. and somehow there’s a bulldozer standing by to dig his grave next to his late wife’s. (I was reminded of a line from “Miracle Mile”: “It’s after 2:00. All the helicopter pilot bars are closed.”) Pacino – an embarrassment throughout – walks up to a group of women at a bar, having swigged a bottleful of Viagra, and tells them his penis is as hard as a diamond, upon which one of the women agrees to dance with him. Misogynistic, painfully unfunny, and set to an incongruous soft-jazz score that only makes it seem to move more slowly, the late-arriving “Stand Up Guys” vaults comfortably into a spot among the year’s ten worst films.

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