December 19, 2014
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Stand Up Guys
See it at the Movies
Don Fowler

STAND UP GUYS

* * *

(Quirky, cute caper movie)

Joyce called it "cute." I called it "quirky."

"Stand Up Guys" features three great actors, all getting along in their years and all up for one final fling.

Al Pacino plays Val, getting out of prison after 28 years. He's picked up at the gate by his old partner in crime, Doc (Christopher Walken), and ready to party. They have a busy day and night of it, visiting a pharmacy for some pills so Val can visit a prostitute, drinking at the local bar, stealing a car with a surprise in the trunk, making an emergency stop at the hospital, taking care of some bad guys, and saving their old pal (Alan Arkin) from a retirement home.

The acting and the action are low key, but there are some funny moments. A side story has Doc connecting with his granddaughter and the three of them saving a damsel in distress.

But wait! Are Doc's intentions all honorable? What about the mob boss who hired him to take care of Val? Can he do it to his old pal?

The three senior actors seem to be having a ball in this lighthearted movie that will provide a few chuckles, adding to the "Year of the Senior Citizen" at the movies.

Rated R, with some violence (they like to shoot the bad guys in their limbs, not kill them), profanity and some funny sexual humor.

SIDE EFFECTS

* * * ½

(Psychological thriller)

This interesting psychological thriller is filled with twists and surprises, keeping you guessing right up to the final scene.

The movie opens with Martin being released from prison after doing time for insider trading. He is greeted at the gate by his loving wife, Emily, who is suffering from depression.

Emily drives her car into the wall of a parking garage and ends up in the hospital, where she is seen by Dr. Jonathan Banks, an overworked psychiatrist (Jude Law) who treats her with a variety of anti-depressants. Banks is recruited by a pharmaceutical company to participate in a drug study (for which doctors are paid handsomely) and prescribes a new study medication that has yet to be FDA approved. He also seeks advice from Emily's previous psychiatrist (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

Emily seems to get her energy back and adapts well to treatment. And then…

This is one of those movies where telling you too much will spoil the movie for you. Let's just say that she performs an act that lands her in jail, causing Dr. Banks to be questioned and challenged about his treatment plan. He is abandoned by his wife, his colleagues and the pharmaceutical company and challenged by the courts and police.

Fingers point toward malpractice and faulty drugs, but the story gets more complicated than that, taking you down different paths until the audience finds out what is really going on. If you figure it out, you're much more astute than we are.

Although it takes a bit too long getting started, good acting and good writing make "Side Effects" an interesting psychological thriller.

Rated R, with some violence, sex, nudity and profanity, most of it handled discreetly.


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