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Review: “Going In Style”

Take three elderly friends, rip their pensions out from underneath them, add in a plan to rob a bank to, in essence, get their pensions back, and what do you get?  “Going In Style”.

The Zach Braff-directed film stars iconic actors Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin as best buddies/co-workers Willie, Joe and Albert, respectively.

After being told the company they work for is moving operations to Vietnam and is taking their pensions with them, the three friends decide to fight back.  Having witnessed a bank heist at the very bank that holds their pensions, Joe approaches Willie and Albert with the idea of doing the very same thing.  All they will take is what their pensions would be for the next several years.  Anything extra they will donate.  Justice will be served.

With some guidance from a shady acquaintance of Joe’s ex-son-in-law, the three pals are able to pull it off.  Their cover is almost blown when Willie, a dialysis patient, semi-collapses during the robbery after he approaches a little girl who tells him he can take her doll.

When Lieutenant Hamer (played by Matt Dillon) has the little girl look at a line-up of potential suspects, including Willie, Joe and Albert, the viewer feels this is it for the guys.  The beauty of the moment is how the little girl ends up sticking it to Hamer and the guys are saved.

This film was far from disappointing.  It had it all:  a plausible storyline, comedy and suspense.  A pleasant comedic addition was several scenes featuring a scatter-brained Milton (played by Christopher Lloyd) and a nice love interest was added for Albert with Ann-Margret’s character of Annie

If you’re not into the current Disney remakes or kiddie cartoons and are longing for classic acting from Hollywood icons, “Going In Style” may suit your style.

Posted in movies, Reviews

Review: “Sing”

“Don’t let fear stop you from doing the thing you love”.

This quote should be the motto for this film from Illumination which stars the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Seth McFarlane, among other talent.  I saw a lot of animated films in 2016 but this one stands out from the rest.  No wonder it’s been nominated for so many awards.  The music alone is worth seeing the film.

Buster Moon (McConaughey) is a savvy, conning theater-owning koala.  Buster’s main problem is that the theater is failing and it’s his dream to keep it alive.  So he drums up a great idea of holding a singing contest for publicity.  Unfortunately Buster doesn’t have much to offer for prize money but he figures he can scrounge up $1,000.

Unbeknownst to him his incompetent assistant Miss Crawly (Garth Jennings) inadvertently adds two zeros to the amount of the prize money when creating the fliers.  Before Buster can even review what she’s printed, the fliers are blown out a window and scattered all over the city.

Before he knows it Buster is faced with auditioning everything from frogs to elephants.  We meet Rosita (Witherspoon), an overworked pig housewife and mother of twenty-five piglets.  There is Gunther, a German pig and dancer-wanna-be.  Ash (Scarlett Johansson) is a temperamental guitar-swinging teen-age porcupine.  Mike (McFarlane) is a shady Sinatra-like mouse.  Johnny (Taron Egerton) is a young gorilla with a beautiful set of pipes stuck between a rock and a hard place.  And Meena (Tori Kelly) is a teen elephant who doesn’t realize beauty of her own voice.

Throughout the rehearsal process each contestant is met with their own obstacles:  boyfriend break-ups, problems with getting a sitter and trying to figure out how to be at rehearsal and also help dad with his next crime.  In addition Buster ends up facing his own issues with the old theater, possible foreclosure and eventually the revelation to his contestants that there is not $100,000 up for grabs.  Barely $1,000.

Without giving away too much, the film concludes with a joyous celebration of success for all.

Not to be missed in this movie is the great music, particularly Stevie Wonder’s “Faith”, Rosita and Gunther singing “Shake It Off” and Johnny’s version of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing”.  Ironically three songs are heard in the movie from artists we lost in 2016:  “Wake Me Up (Before You Go-Go)” is briefly heard when Eddie (Buster’s friend) answers his phone; “Under Pressure” is heard during a montage scene and Tori Kelly sings a spine-tinging rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.

With winter upon us and the holidays over, if you’re searching for a good family film to see, “Sing” would be a perfect fit.

Appropriately, I give it five: