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Movie Review: 'Stand Up Guys' -- 2 stars

From left, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, and Al

From left, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, and Al Pacino in "Stand Up Guys." Credit: From left, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, and Al Pacino in "Stand Up Guys."

Stand Up Guys
2 stars
Directed by Fisher Stevens
Starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin
Rated R

Fisher Stevens' "Stand Up Guys" is an existential comedy starring Al Pacino and Christopher Walken, with the great Alan Arkin briefly getting in on the fun, too. But if what sounds like a dream night at the movies isn't a nightmare, exactly, it sure is disappointing.

Fundamentally, this is a one-act play stretched to feature length and put on the big screen. There's not much to the story beyond its thin conceit, so the filmmaker relies on his stars' considerable charms. Even when it comes to Oscar winners, that approach only gets you so far.

Noah Haidle's script concerns a former criminal named Doc (Walken), who picks up his best friend and former partner Val (Pacino) from jail after the latter's release following 28 years in the clink. There's just one catch: Crime boss Claphands (Mark Margolis) has blackmailed Doc into killing his buddy. Doc clues Val into this unfortunate fact early on and surprisingly enough, his pal doesn't flee.

Instead, a night of zany reflection across dark city streets commences, before the deed must be done.

Pacino plays one of his characteristic sleazy loudmouths, spewing vulgarities and bravado. Walken is miscast as the straight man and Arkin offers his usual grumpy shtick.

The actors hit the same notes repeatedly and the filmmakers overestimate the entertainment value in watching these guys play unlikable caricatures.

As the men take stock of their lives and prepare for death, their odyssey includes violence, sex with hot prostitutes and repeated visits to a 24-hour diner. But the contrived journey, a sort of philosophical "Hangover" featuring senior citizens, is never as profound or funny as it thinks it is.

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