By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
“Going in Style” is a funny, relevant movie that shows what can happen to folks in the event that the pension due them from the company from which they retired is attached to a sale, and the new owners don’t honor the pension plans of the retired employees.
Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin are a trio of old friends who all retired from the same company and learn that they will have to struggle even more, because they will no longer receive their pensions. Each man has his own problems, some they are keeping from the others, in addition to the fact that they are relying on their pension funds. Freeman, 79, who plays Willie, is living with kidney problems and he needs a new kidney. But to him that’s the least of his worries, he would love to see his estranged daughter and granddaughter even more. Caine, 84, who plays Joe, has let his daughter and her child come live with him, so he must be able to pay the mortgage on his home. Arkin, 83, who plays Albert, also teaches saxophone and works hard to escape the sexual advances of Ann-Margret who works as a clerk named Annie at the local grocery store. Al and Willie have lived together for more than 25 years, a fact that both of them find hard to believe.
“Going in Style” is based on a movie from nearly 40 years ago that featured George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg. While I have read that the original movie was more of a comedy, this latest offering is more than just funny. It concentrates more on the heist or robbery of the bank, where Joe has been banking for years and now from where he’s receiving foreclosure notices. He witnesses a robbery while he’s at the bank one day and figures the three of them can do the same thing and get away with it. After they figure they want to continue eating their “piece of the pie,” they concoct a plan to rob the bank. They enlist help from Joe’s ex-son-in-law who leads them to John Ortiz who plays Jesús.
They all know the risks, and Jesús is just there to show them tactics and moves and to time them going in and out of the bank—the robbery, if successful, should be around two minutes in duration. The trio, as well, agree that they are willing to be arrested and locked up in the slammer, if they are not successful. The sentiment is that they would at least get three meals and a cot while in jail for however many years they have left to live. They try a test run by shoplifting from the grocery store; this scene is hysterically funny, filled with quick one-liners from all three men.
A symbolic gesture late in the movie attests to the fact that society’s elders should be provided for and not just tossed away or swindled out of their pensions or life savings. Joe, Albert and Willie bring much levity and heart-warming family stories to “Going in Style.” They also impart some wisdom that will certainly make seniors who see the movie think about their situations and look for ways to enjoy life’s moments, if at all possible.
Freeman, who years ago had an accident that affected his left hand, was more apt to show it in this film. A while back, he was seen wearing a compression glove, which he may still use. However, it was not evident in the film. I was surprised to see Ann-Margret, who is 75, but she was playing the sex kitten, an image that has made her famous. Other cast members include screen and Broadway star Anthony Chisholm, Saturday Night Live’s Kenan Thompson, who plays the store security guard, Matt Dillon and Christopher Lloyd of the “Back to the Future” franchise.
“Going in Style” is a movie filled with great performances from veteran actors, who don’t miss a step in bringing the “old gang” game to life. The film, which is directed by Zach Braff, an actor in the old hospital comedy “Scrubs,” is playing at local theatres everywhere.