Going in Style

Going in Style and the Rise of Older-Skewing Films

April 20, 2017
Britain and the indies have been pumping them out for years, and it looks like Hollywood has noticed!

Going in Style stars Oscar winners Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin, as well as two-time nominee Ann-Margaret. The film follows lifelong friends Willie (Morgan Freeman), Joe (Michael Caine) and Albert (Alan Arkin) as they stage an intricate robbery to claim back their pensions, which have been made a ‘corporate casualty’ by their bank. Don’t let the stars’ combined age of 246 fool you – they are taking names and kicking ass.

This film is a comedic remake – or, as Morgan Freeman and director Zach Braff correct us – a “reimagining” of the 1979 film of the same name. Despite the comedic overtones, Going in Style confronts some real age-related issues that exist in Western society. According to Braff, “We wanted to make a comedy and we didn’t want it to be too heavy on people. But how could you make a movie about seniors in 2017 and not discuss some of the issues that are going on? Michael has a line where he says, ‘worst case scenario, in jail I will get a bed, three meals a day and better healthcare than I get now’. I think one of the few things that both parties in the United States agree upon is that the seniors aren’t treated as well as they should be and that the banks had never gotten any comeuppance for what happened in 2008 [bank failures during the global financial crisis]. In this country, if you go broke, you go sick. So elements of all of these factors are in the film, but it’s a comedy.”

The real heart of the film is the relationship between the three central characters. “At the core of the film”, Zach muses, “we are invested in their friendship. We watch the movie and we love these guys together. It doesn’t matter what age you are – it’s about the friendship and love that you have around you.”

One of our favourite aspects of this film is its sense of fun – you can tell that the cast had a great time making it. “Within a few days, they [the cast] were all cracking jokes and laughing,” confirms Braff. “You see how they are together, they’re all funny and they all make each other laugh. So my job as director was just to steer them and put them on the right spot and have them do what they do so wonderfully”.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Although it is unusual for an action film to star actors in their 80s, it might not be this way for long, as recent years have shown a spike in films geared at older audiences. Michael Caine gives us some insight on why this might be – “I read an article by the Hollywood Producers Association about why people are still making films about older people. The article looked back at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which took 150 million dollars and didn’t have Brad Pitt in it or anything. The article found out that people of an older age were fed up with watching television and were now going back out to the cinema, and they have done it ever since. There have been several movies with older people that have made big bucks at the box office recently.” In fact, some of the highest grossing movies in recent years have starred older actors – A Walk in the Woods, Grandma, Woman in Gold, Lady in the Van, and Their Finest, which opens in cinemas same day as Going in Style – we could go on. The over-60s are the original patrons of cinema –  you could say cinema outings are in their blood. Combine this with the extra time and, if you’re lucky, disposable income that comes with retirement, and the over-60s make for a very loyal film audience.

As Ann Margaret remarks, “life doesn’t stop when we hit a certain age” – so why should seeing and being featured in movies? According to the MPAA, the number of “frequent moviegoers” (people who see movies in the cinema once a month or more) in the 18-39 year old demographic has dropped by millions in the last few years. But among viewers aged 60 and over (who are less inclined to download or stream), the number of frequent moviegoers is rising. And Hollywood is noticing.

When Zach Braff chose to direct this film, he did so with his father in mind. “My father is 82, and he loves the movies more than anything. So, with something like this [Going in Style], he would be the first in line to go see it, even if I had nothing to do with it.”

We’ll leave you with Ann Margaret’s advice for staying youthful despite old age… “Sex. Lots of sex.”

Going in Style is in cinemas from April 20, 2017

Read our review of Going in Style

Read the press conference with Going in Style stars and director

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