Going in Style (1979)

Genres - Comedy, Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Buddy Film, Crime Comedy, Caper  |   Release Date - Dec 1, 1979 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Fred Beldin

This bittersweet comedy-drama was the first major project for director Martin Brest, who would later hit blockbuster status with the very different Beverly Hills Cop. It's remarkable that the then 28-year-old Brest (who also wrote the screenplay) could forge a film that examined the dreams and lives of elderly men with such sensitivity, not to mention providing three veteran performers with such an excellent showcase for their talents. In lesser hands, the story of three senior citizens who rob a bank for kicks might have found humor at the expense of its subjects, but Brest treats his characters with respect, focusing on their lonely boredom and the fleeting sense of power they enjoy while staging the holdup. There are a number of delightful scenes that express the exhilaration the men feel just for finally having something to do, not the least of which is Art Carney's free-spirited dance to a group of street musicians. When the bank customers fail to take the elderly criminals seriously, George Burns makes his point in spades by shooting a clock, and the final view of the robbery is a wonderful overhead shot that finds the trio holding a roomful of disbelieving younger folks flat on the floor at gunpoint. Unfortunately, the triumph is short-lived, and they find themselves right back on the park bench wondering just what they're going to do with all the cash. There's barely a wrong note in Going in Style, and the melancholy tone balances with genuine laughs to create a tremendously human picture that's well worth seeking out.