There’s a saying that in order to make an omelet, you have to break a lot of eggs. Well, apparently, it’s also true that if you and your two best friends want to rob a bank, you have to make a lot of t-shirts. At least, if you’re Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin and Michael Caine. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
“Little guy” heist movies, such as “Sugar and Spice” (cheerleaders) or “Fun With Dick and Jane” (recently destitute yuppies) usually follow the same formula as we get here. We’re introduced to three lifelong friends (Morgan, Alan and Michael) who are “practically 8-0” and therefore hoping to rely on their pensions soon. One wants to keep his house, another (tearjerker alert) needs a medical operation; etc., etc. When they discover that the company for whom they’ve toiled for years isn’t going to follow through, the trio is justifiably outraged, and having recently been in a bank that was robbed, Michael decides they should follow suit. At first, Alan will have none of it, but gradually, they talk him into being an accomplice.
For a trial run, they attempt to rob a discount grocery store which backfires, but with the help of veteran “lowlife” pet shop employee Jesus (John Ortiz) they get a tutorial which helps them pull off the intended heist – or have they? Even though they have a rock solid alibi (a Knights of Columbus charity fair), soon thanks to security cameras that manage to pick up odd runs (if not the faces behind the Rat Pack masks), the nefarious agent Matt Dillon is hot on their trail. Will the trio be able to complete their plan, which involves a romance with Ann-Margret, a puppy for a beloved granddaughter (Joey King), and an operation? (If you’ve seen a movie before, you can probably guess the answer.)
During “Going in Style,” there was a lot of audience participation in my theater, such as when Michael outlines his plan to regain their pensions and explains why they should go through with it.
Michael Caine: “The banks are screwing everybody!”
The woman to the left of me sotto voce: “He! Is! Right!”
A more ambitious reviewer could write an analysis of how such a response might indicate the anger and disillusionment the average American has with “the system,” as the same woman also applauded when the getaway car pulls back into its designated spot after the heist, but I’ll just stick to saying that the cast does a terrific job, the three leads have an effortless rapport, and tucked inside is a sweet but not saccharine message about standing by your friends in adversity and rewarding loyalty. As one of the characters puts it, “Everyone deserves a piece of the pie.”