It's the holiday season, and a weird one at that, as movies are shuffled around in an attempt to capitalize with Star Wars on the approach. After a few drops from my theater, yours truly finally got a new film in to review. Today's focus is on Just Getting Started, a retirement community film with the legendary Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones leading the way into what is hope to be comedic fun. Can the time-honored veterans bring this film up to code, or does it fail like so many comedies this year? Robbie K is back with another review to help guide your viewing pleasure. Here we go!
Old Time Charm: Say what you want about the film, but with classic actors like Freeman and Jones you get that kind of charm they brought to their films long ago. Freeman has charm, dapper mannerisms, sarcastic delivery, and that energy that is famous with him. Like Driving Ms. Daisy with a twist of the Shawshank mixed in to make an interesting character that acts as the base of the movie. While Lee brings his usual wit into the mix, including sarcasm, dry delivery, and that neutral expression that makes him so famous. With these styles, the directors were able to cast a movie that flowed well with the atmosphere that will certainly please older audience members and fans of the duo. Therefore, you can guess that this is a friendly movie to a broad spectrum of ages, especially ones who like older slapstick styles.
The Twist on The Story: Despite what the trailers promised, this movie has a little more of a crime twist than expected. While not the darkest shadow in the world of crime, Just Getting Started had an underlying sub story tailing that rivalry of Freeman and Jones. The added mystery helped keep my interest, and kept me engaged in what could have been a bland attempt to recreate Grumpy Old Men. Throw in the attempt at romance as well and you get three stories that semi-integrate together to keep things as dynamic as they could be.
Pace: Movie movies fast, and there isn't much more to say about this. No dragged at story details, no torturous long treks, just a very concise journey through living in a beautiful scenery retirement community and trying to be the top dog. Yay!
Dropped Story Elements: Despite the twist, Just Getting Started, seemed to have just initiated the plot of the movie, because there was little development in many of the stories that they introduced. Freeman's character evidently had more hidden secrets than let on, but you don't find out about them and his antagonist does little in the film outside of whining and lackluster threats. Lee's character also held the big secrets up until the end of the movie, but the revelation was boring, lazily thought, and not timed well for the reveal with all the suspense. It's another example of ill-designed story telling that Hollywood keeps ditching, which is sad given where these guys came from.
Lackluster climax/Ill-fitting plots: With all those stories, the movie needed some work in keeping the details together and keeping it relevant to the movie overall. At the start it kind of worked, but soon the crime suspense started feeling out of place to the romance and slapstick that became the focus of the movie. Therefore, the twist didn't work out as much as I had hoped. In addition, the exciting climax was dull, rushed, and merely a device to wrap up their loose ends in the short time limit. Cute and friendly as it was, it didn't need to be in there.
Mediocre Comedy: I know, you might be surprised at this given how legendary these actors are. Unfortunately, Just Getting Started has very simplistic writing that lacks zest, timing, and that punch you want in a comedy. Part of it goes to focusing on too many stories in one setting clouding the comedy with attempts at secrecy. The second is playing it too safe and not injecting wit into the lines to maximize the laughs, instead going for nonverbal comedy, old jokes that got old, and some banter that would have other comedy classics twirling in their graves. Had they focused on the comedy aspect a little more, and steered away from being old and having a sex drive, it might have been received better.
Deep down the movie is a fun revisit into the family-friendly trek through the golden ages that proves you can have life even after 50. While the charm is there, the pace is fast, and there is a twist, the movie fails at balancing these qualities to deliver what the trailers wanted. It's not the funniest due to the unfocused presentation of crime, romance, and slapstick, feeling like a water down version of grumpy old men/bucket list. Still, it's cute and wholesome and will leave many older audience members, and fans of these actors satiated at the end of the day. My opinion, this film is best left to renting at home and watching at the holidays.
Action/Comedy: 6.0 Movie Overall: 5.0