Duke (Morgan Freeman) went into witness protection after his testimony put a made man in prison, and now he has a good thing going as the resident manager of a Southern California “luxury resort community” called Villa Capri. But when Leo (Tommy Lee Jones) moves in, Duke’s rule of the roost is challenged. Suzie (Rene Russo), Duke’s corporate boss, is in town to review his operation as the holidays approach as well, and an unwanted guest arrives in the form of the made man’s son, who plots to kill Duke as payback for his father’s incarceration.
While it’s true Just Getting Started features Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones, the leading man is a surprise newcomer. He has rugged good looks. He is an accommodating host to three ladies at once. Clouds of dust rise in his wake as he rides off with a rescued dog. He is…the Ford F-150. As you watch Leo and Duke find lame excuses to climb in and out of this handsome vehicle over and over, you may struggle a little with the exact hue of its red paint job. Candy Apple? Fire Engine? Ah ha! Of course, Ruby Red! As Leo tells Duke, the truck is his “brand-new, four-wheel-drive, extended-cab F-150 in Ruby Red.” Which is super helpful for those of you who may want to stop by your local Ford dealer on the way home, should its purely incidental appearances in this movie have piqued your interest. There is one scene where we see the truck aggressively maneuver off-road in so gratuitous a fashion that it resembles the hoary clichés of a car commercial. One begins to wonder whether the marketing team at Ford wrote the script -- that would explain its utter deadness as well. Everything that should be shown in this movie is told, and everything that is shown would be better left unseen.
Sometimes, it’s less useful to ask whether a film is “good” than to ask who it’s for. And it’s also true that not every Hollywood movie has Oscar aspirations. However, one shudders to think that there exists somewhere a group of people who would relate to or enjoy Just Getting Started, as it doesn’t seem to be pursuing even the sort of noble mediocrity we are inclined to occasionally forgive. Even viewers who seek out in every film at least a redeeming performance or a standout element will find no respite here. Just Getting Started isn’t madcap or funny or endearing; hell, it’s not even “cute.” It is, as Suzie says of Villa Capri itself, “madness. It’s all madness.”