Because Going In Style had been out of print on DVD for so long (WB Archives released it last summer), I’m always scanning Turner Classics in the hopes that it will be listed as an upcoming feature presentation, as I’ve still yet to pull the trigger on a disc purchase. Twice in the last year and a half they’ve aired this wonderful, charming and extremely entertaining if melancholy little film, and I really hope that a boutique Blu-ray label will finally release this as a special edition in the near future. Martin Brest’s 1979 dramedy was always one of those “Holy Grail” movies for me growing up as a budding cinemaniac, an early effort from a fabled filmmaker that I had so much interest in seeing that it was almost driving me crazy that I hadn’t. Back in the day, my local Blockbuster didn’t carry it, so it became extra annoying that it remained so out of reach. But after two viewings, I can say that it was worth the wait, and it reconfirms my feelings that Brest’s banishment from Hollywood is one of the most egregious wastes of talent that I can think of.
This is such a funny, endearing movie, made with that special late-70’s tone and style that’s so distinctive and personal feeling. Starring George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg as three cranky retirees who decide to rob a bank on a whim (their pension checks suck and they figure that they’ll either get away with it or get free room and board in the slammer until they die) as they assume nobody will ever expect three old geezers wearing Charlie Chaplin nose-and-glasses disguises would be crazy enough to attempt a stick-up. They carry out their plan, but what happens next should be left for you to discover, because this film packed much more in than I ever expected. As always, Brest stressed the human qualities of life, going for simple but extremely effective humor, some terrific moments of introspection, and a quiet, unassuming style that’s in perfect tandem with the graceful nature of the narrative. The three central performances are all perfect, and Michael Small’s bouncy, energetic score amps up the film’s playful, soulful, and earnest qualities at every moment.