Europe is considerably kinder to its elder statesmen—at least where cinema is concerned. Michael Haneke’s dissection of octogenarian love, Amour
, is a lock for the foreign-language Oscar, with Emmanuelle Riva, 85, up for her own golden boy. Middlebrow dramedy Quartet
is winning audiences over with its story of retired musicians like Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon taking the stage. What do we do with our aging legends? We repurpose their well-worn personas. Take Fisher Stevens’ Stand Up Guys
, which casts some of the greatest actors of the past 30 years in a horribly unfunny and tonally schizophrenic crime comedy. You’re always in trouble when a film about dudes over 60 goes for the Viagra. Stand Up Guys
reaches for it immediately when just-released convict Val (Al Pacino) is taken by his best friend, Doc (Christopher Walken), to a brothel, only to find his pipes aren’t working. So the two immediately break into a drug store, where Pacino pops a handful of “boner pills” and spends the next 20 minutes talking about the “python in his pants” that’s “hard as Gibraltar.” The setup is as old as screenwriting classes—Walken’s been tasked by a mob boss to whack a knowing Pacino before sunrise, so this is their last hurrah. In the rare quiet moment when the two masters of cadence exchange dialogue, the film shows potential. But it jackknifes in tone more frequently than Walken himself. In one scene, they’re sitting in a diner talking about the “good old days.” The next, they’re twinned pistol-wielding badasses doling out vigilante justice. Maybe it’s time Pacino gets a room at that nice retirement home we call Europe, where bad men like Fisher Stevens can’t steal his medicine and gals like Emmanuelle Riva might want a look at that python.