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Stand Up Guys Blu-ray + UltraViolet Digital Copy Review

Stand Up Guys (2012) movie poster Stand Up Guys

Theatrical Release: December 14, 2012 / Running Time: 95 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Fisher Stevens / Writer: Noah Haidle

Cast: Al Pacino (Valentine), Christopher Walken (Doc), Alan Arkin (Richard Hirsch), Julianna Margulies (Nina Hirsch), Mark Margolis (Claphands), Lucy Punch (Wendy De Haviland), Addison Timlin (Alex), Vanessa Ferlito (Sylvia), Katheryn Winnick (Oxana), Bill Burr (Larry), Craig Sheffer (Jargoniew #1), Yorgo Constantine (Paul), Weronika Rosati (Irena), Courtney Galiano (Lisa), Lauriane Gilliιron (Allison), Arjun Gupta (DJ), Rick Gomez (Priest)

Buy Stand Up Guys from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + UltraViolet • DVD + UltraViolet • Instant Video

For a good number of years now, I've considered Al Pacino the cut-off for someone not being that old.
Someone born on or after Pacino's birthdate of April 25, 1940 might have seemed old, but they're no older than Al Pacino and Al Pacino is still a cool guy and a movie star. Pacino headlines movies and not playing some old nursing home resident, but a cop, a gambler, a CIA agent. Your grandparents might be just a year older, but they're not going to be doing whatever Pacino's doing.

I may have to rethink my theory, not because Pacino just turned 73, but because he's finally made an old man movie. That movie is Stand Up Guys and it casts Pacino alongside Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin. That is something of a dream team among veteran actors still working, which raises expectations to places this comedy cannot reach.

Alan Arkin, Al Pacino, and Christopher Walken play old criminal friends who reunite in the comedy "Stand Up Guys."

Pacino plays Valentine (Val to friends), an old school criminal who has just been paroled after serving 28 years in jail. Greeting Val at the gate is old friend Doc (Walken), who gives him a ride to the apartment they'll share, which Val immediately belittles. It feels like this is Grumpy Old Men for a new generation, but the film reveals itself to be something else when Doc follows Val into the bathroom with a pistol in his hand. Val's crime is never specified, but whatever it was involved the death of an old mobster's only son. That mobster, Claphands (Mark Margolis), has long planned for Val to meet instant justice by Doc's hand as soon as he was released from prison. Claphands gives Doc until 10 AM the next day to perform this difficult job.

But that's several hours away and Val and Doc have a lot of catching up to do. These old dogs resort to their old tricks, only the targets have changed. They break into a pharmacy to steal prescription drugs, with Val overdosing on "boner pills" in preparation for a visit to his favorite old brothel, which lives on under the management of their madam's daughter (Lucy Punch). Val's persistent erection requires a trip to the emergency room, where he and Doc get to see Nina (Julianna Margulies), the daughter of their old getaway driver. The nursing home of that emphysemic wheelman, Richard (Arkin), is the next stop, at which the guys show up in a stolen sports car.

With a high-speed police chase and the sudden discovery of a naked person in the trunk, Stand Up Guys briefly feels like a geriatric Hangover film. But the shenanigans slow and the mood settles down as Val and Doc give thought to the way their all-nighter regrettably must end. That looming 10 AM deadline inspires thoughts of redemption and closure amidst the guys' reliving of glory days.

Julianna Margulies gets back into familiar blue scrubs to play Nina Hirsch, an ER nurse and family friend of the guys. Believing his time on Earth limited, Val (Al Pacino) goes all out in ordering food at the 24-hour diner he keeps returning to.

Stand Up Guys is so likable in theory. The idea of Pacino, Walken, and Arkin reuniting and whooping it up sounds like a great way to spend 95 minutes. Unfortunately, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The screenplay, the feature debut of Noah Haidle, can't decide on a tone. One moment, it's content to be a dumb comedy mining old man boners, Ukrainian hookers, and snorted prescription drugs for laughs. The next, it wants us to take its plot seriously and be mindful of our mortality,
even though it seems most unlikely we're actually heading for such a dark destination. At other times yet, it wants us to believe this is an action film, that these old-timers can still talk tough, drive fast, and have the fists and firepower to back it up.

The film has the most success in the middle of those three tones, as an earnest drama allowing us to revel in the history and atmosphere of an old friendship. That phase is a little problematic, too, but at least you're only asked to simply watch and invest, not laugh or cheer as the comedic and action bits wrongly expect us to.

One gets the feeling that once the dream cast was lined up, the producers got excited and just rushed to get made while the actors' schedules remained free. That Haidle is a novice whose script's deficiencies must have presented themselves on the page didn't seem to matter. A director's chair had to be filled, so why not do it with actor Fisher Stevens of Short Circuit fame? After all, he directed one movie, some documentary shorts, and -- count 'em -- two episodes of "Early Edition." He's an actor, just like Pacino, Walken, and Arkin are... what could go wrong?

The film doesn't exactly go wrong. It just doesn't go nearly as right as you so desperately want it to. There's not even a single scene you feel entirely happy with, even if you like the characters, love the actors, and appreciate their chemistry.

So confident was distributor Lionsgate in the product that they sent out award screeners of the film all the way back in November to Academy members (but alas, not OFCS critics). The film did wind up going forth with a qualifying limited theatrical run in mid-December, which drew a single award nomination for Best Original Song at the Golden Globes. Cheapening that lone nomination was the fact that it seemed to take into account the star power of composer/performer Jon Bon Jovi, since we know how much the Golden Globes loves recognizing famous celebrities.

Stand Up Guys wound up getting nationwide release in February, where it earned a paltry $3.3 million with a max theater count of 670. On Tuesday, well in time for Father's Day, the film hits DVD and Blu-ray, each equipped with codes for an UltraViolet digital copy stream/download.

Stand Up Guys Blu-ray + UltraViolet Digital Copy cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($27.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Lionsgate's Blu-ray treats Stand Up Guys to outstanding picture quality. Sharp, clean, vibrant and detailed, the 2.40:1 transfer stands up to close scrutiny and realizes the high potential for new films in 1080p video. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio also delights with crisp recordings mixed evenly and enveloping slightly.

A denim-clad Fisher Stevens directs suited, seated Christopher Walken and Al Pacino on the set of "Stand Up Guys." Jon Bon Jovi explains how he came to write original songs for the film.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's extras begin with an audio commentary by director Fisher Stevens. Green enough behind the camera to take the track seriously, he speaks passionately and candidly with no lulls about his influences (from Dog Day Afternoon to Superbad to "Maculky Culkin" in Home Alone), creative decisions (avoiding extras and contemporary technology), production experiences including tense moments on set,
trims, alternate takes, improvisations, casting (how he managed to get Pacino to take another look at the script) and near-casting (John Malkovich was wanted for Mark Margolis' role). He even tries out his Walken impression at times.

The video side, where everything is presented in HD, starts with "The Lowdown on Making Stand Up Guys" (11:54), which collects cast and crew thoughts and some behind-the-scenes glimpses of production. It's a standard but good general piece that sheds a little light on the casting process.

"The Stand Up Songs of Jon Bon Jovi" (4:46) celebrates the New Jersey rocker's soft musical contributions. Bon Jovi explains how his songs reflect the film's themes and even incorporate bits of dialogue, with Bon Jovi making personal connections and admitting to being star-struck around the accomplished actors.

Storyboards map out "The Stand Up Stunt Driving Scenes." Al Pacino shows he can do more than just slow dance in this deleted scene.

"American Muscle: The Stand Up Stunt Driving Scenes" (5:03) breaks down what the film's action driving sequences entailed. It is appropriately short.

Two deleted scenes (2:35) show us Al Pacino's fast dancing skills
and have his character comment on the rooftop view that Doc has painted.

"Also from Lionsgate" repeats the same four trailers with which the disc opens, promoting Margin Call, Red, The Conspirator, and Epix HD. Stand Up Guys' own trailer is regrettably absent.

The menu plays clips in a swatch around artistic renderings and silhouettes adapted from the poster. The Blu-ray supports bookmarks, but does not resume playback.

Your unique code for a complimentary UltraViolet stream of the film is the only insert in the nicely slipcovered eco-friendly keepcase.

Old friends (Al Pacino and Christopher Walken) get new suits near the end of "Stand Up Guys."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Stand Up Guys might qualify as a pleasant surprise if it starred some unknown elderly actors, but with the likes of Al Pacino and Christopher Walken in the foreground, it often disappoints. Even without high expectations, the movie's erratic stumble through genres does not add up to the feel-good experience it's clearly meant to. It's still worth a look, especially for fans of the cast. Just keep your hopes in check.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray serves up a terrific feature presentation plus a good supply of bonus features highlighted by a strong commentary.

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Reviewed May 16, 2013.



Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012-13 Lionsgate, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, and Lakeshore Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.