BOTTOM LINE: One of the best comedies ever made. Never loses its replay value and is still fairly relevant with regards to its funny yet frank look at society and how we view the elderly. And the three leads are at the top of their game here. Well worth owning, GOING IN STYLE comes very highly recommended. 5 STARS
THE STORY (contains minor spoilers): Three elderly retirees sharing an apartment spend their days doing the same old, same old. Tired of the routine, one of them comes up with a plan to alleviate their boredom: rob a bank! If they succeed they'll have a blast doing something different, dangerous & exciting, (plus more money to spend in their golden years than they could have ever imagined). If they're caught, they'll simply spend a few years in jail with three meals a day and a clean place to sleep. As a bonus, when they're released each will have a tidy amount waiting for them in the form of a stack of uncashed Social Security paychecks accrued during their incarceration. It seems like a "win-win" and after some discussion, they agree... and the adventure begins. What happens along the way is something truly moving and genuinely magical for movie fans.
THOUGHTS: One of the best movies with a focus on older folks EVER made. Each of the three main actors gets his opportunity to shine and they all do, with gusto. This film is, without a doubt, George Burns' best work as a movie actor. He simply IS the heart of this piece. By turns Burns is sympathetic, bitter, confused, remorseful, angry, delighted, ashamed, self-loathing and, of course, always cantankerous. He's just pitch-perfect here. Relatively new at the time actor Charles Hallahan really shines in a small but memorable role playing Pete, the nephew of Art Carney's delightfully loveable teddy bear character, Al. Art Carney is a joy to watch, stealing every scene he's in. The Vegas crap table scene is pure movie magic, with two old pros just having an absolute blast and they play off one another hilariously. Lee Strasberg doesn't get much screen time, but the pivotal scene between him & Art Carney really packs a punch, and demonstrates why Strassberg is such a well-respected acting legend. It's still hard to believe that a movie about the elderly could be so winning, insightful and touching... and yet was scripted by then-27 year-old writer/director Martin Brest! Bravo!
THE DVD: This is an early Warner Bros release in one of those annoying old style cardboard snapcases. Video & audio are solid but nothing to rave about. There are no extras beyond the film's theatrical trailer, which is a disappointment. Sadly, all the main contributors of this terrific little motion picture have long since passed on now, with the exception of director Martin Brest. WB really dropped the ball by not tasking someone with getting interviews with and/or commentary from Burns & Carney while they were still with us. ***GOING IN STYLE is being remade, though the plot of the new version suggests a very loose adaption more than a direct remake. Even so, let's just hope that smarter heads prevail and this original version gets dusted off & properly restored/remastered onto Blu-ray. And hopefully, someone will dig thru the archives and unearth interviews, talk show appearances with the actors, and other bits to include as bonus material for a newer, high-def release, (let's at least hear a retrospective director's commentary from Martin Brest!). A movie this impressive and entertaining deserves better treatment and is long overdue for a remastering. But even here on this barebones release, GOING IN STYLE easily rates a solid 5 STARS!