Reviewed byEarl GosnellVote: 8/10
"Just Getting Started" explores the interactions of the 'cowboy' Leo (Tommy Lee Jones), the 'playboy' Duke (Morgan Freeman) and the 'career woman' Suzie (Rene Russo) as they find themselves in the luxury resort community Villa Capri. Leo acts like he owns the place although it's Duke's official fief. Suzie is a bit standoffish in her mysterious work role. The plot develops slowly at first while the movie gets started.
Alfred Hitchcock employed the term MacGuffin to refer to a device introduced to move the plot along although of itself it is not significant to said plot, or at least not fully explained. Here the MacGuffin is what a student of the Proverbs might term a recurring tornado: ref. (Prov. 10:25) "As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation" The whirlwind is like the New Jersey mob in its devastation, gone once the law puts it out of business, using a good citizen's testimony, which qualifies him for the witness protection program where he can peacefully put down roots. Leo is such a one prospering in his adopted surroundings while keeping a low exterior profile. Alas for a T.V. clip that blows his cover ("The s.o.b. is in Palm Springs!") His discovery leads to complications ("They found me.")
The action is set during the few days leading up to Christmas. The music comes in fits and starts, with an emphasis occurring on the line: "God and sinners reconciled." Duke's sinful life consists of: "Sex, booze, and golf"--golf like many other of Duke's games includes wagers, gambling. The movie carefully avoids any religious conversion, but Duke's competition with well-heeled Leo leaves him no time for sex. World-wise Leo in fact takes on the role of guardian angel helping him avoid sin and more pragmatic dangers. Suzie whose "final marriage is my job" is sexless like the Virgin Mary, and she will exert a restraining, sobering influence on the Duke. As is pointed out, the wise men couldn't have got to Bethlehem without those camels, so could not the Christ child have arrived without Mary. Duke to win a combination play against Leo makes his final move where "his knees touched the floor." That's a common enough occurrence of those who pray, although here the movie just imitates aspects of the religious without actually going there.
The movie was shot on location in New Mexico. It includes a guest appearance of and performance by Johnny Mathis. We get great comedic acting, enough suspense to keep us alert, a modicum of background Christmassy emblems (without forcing religion), and some genuine shoot-'em-up action. It's a well done flick and should provide an alternative to the sorry Christmas fare that gets overly saccharine.
Reviewed byrgkarimVote: 6/10
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
Reviewed byHellmantVote: 5/10
'JUST GETTING STARTED': Two and a Half Stars (Out of Five)
An action-comedy buddy flick from writer/director Ron Shelton, who's previously helmed such popular sports-comedies as 'BULL DURHAM','WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP' & 'TIN CUP' (as well as the action-comedy buddy flick 'HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE'). The film stars Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones as an ex-mob lawyer, and an ex-FBI agent, that have to overcome their personal feud in order to survive a mafia hit at their retirement home. The movie also costars Rene Russo, Joe Pantoliano, George Wallace, Jane Seymour and the late Glenne Headly (in one of her final film performances). It's received mostly negative reviews from critics, and it's also underperformed at the Box Office so far as well. I found it to be very mildly amusing, at times, but it's also mostly just a waste of time.
Duke Diver (Freeman) is the most popular resident at villa Capri, a retirement home which he also helps run. That is until a new guest, named Leo (Jones), shows up. Leo rivals Duke at everything he's known for there, and the two engage in a bitter rivalry (even over women). That is until a mob hitman attempts to kill Diver, and the two must then put aside their dispute in order to survive.
I'll admit Freeman and Jones are both entertaining to watch, but that's only because they're such good actors. The duo is so much better than the material they're given here, and Ron Shelton has delivered much better material than this in the past. Maybe it's because they're all getting so old, but I know that Jones and Freeman can still do much better than this. They just need to learn to skip bad film roles.
A two-hander action comedy in the vein of Midnight Run (1988), about an ex-F.B.I. Agent (Tommy Lee Jones) and an ex-mob lawyer in the Witness Protection Program (Morgan Freeman) having to put aside their petty rivalry on the golf course to fend off a mob hit.