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Zach Braff is back behind the camera with “Going in Style”

One of the more underrated and multidimensional talents in the industry remains Zach Braff. He is a skilled filmmaker, in addition to an actor who never gets the credit he deserves. Go back at look at Garden State, which is a near masterpiece. Then, there’s his maligned but actually quite tremendous long in the making follow up Wish I Was Here. This week, he sees his first pure directorial for hire gig hit theaters in Going in Style, a broad comedy remake. It’s something very different for him, but one that seems like a fun diversion for sure. Braff is back, and that’s what counts. He’s a talent that deserves to work way more than he already does.

This film is a crime comedy, with the caper being all the more cinematic by being pulled off by geriatrics. Lifelong friends Joe (Michael Caine), Willie (Morgan Freeman), and Albert (Alan Arkin) come to bank robbing late in life only because a bank has stolen their life savings. This particular bank has liquidated their retirement money in a takeover, so the trio decide to get even. In some ways, this remake of the 1979 comedy of the same name is a humorous cousin to last year’s brilliant Hell or High Water. Braff directs a script by filmmaker in his own right Theodore Melfi. The starry cast, in addition to the aforementioned Arkin, Caine, and Freeman, include Matt Dillon, Joey King, Christopher Lloyd, Ann-Margret, John Ortiz, Josh Pais, Peter Serafinowicz, Kenan Thompson, and more.

Braff is a filmmaker who is able to mold very indie sensibilities with an inherent ability to please a crowd. It’s something that I’ve been saying for some time now. In fact, I did a whole article on him a few years ago. The filmmaking debut Garden State is one of the more impressive first features in a long time, either by an actor or just from a director in general. His screenplay deserved a nomination, in my humble opinion. He hasn’t made nearly as many movies as he should have, but in the years to come, hopefully that changes. Studio gigs like this will certainly help out.

Here’s a bit that I wrote about him when Wish I Was Here came out:

Going forward, I sincerely hope he finds a balance between getting his personal filmmaking projects off the ground and signing on for various indie and studio acting gigs. He’s got a knack for dramedy when he writes and directs, while when he acts he’s a very responsive actor, perfect for a big high concept comedy. I’m not his agent, so I can’t tell him what to do, but I would urge him to stay busy. He’s too good to stay at home, even if he has to utilize Kickstarter again. It worked once, so I have to assume that it would work again, provided the project was appealing, of course.

Overall, on Friday Braff returns to directing with Going in Style, a definite studio gig, but one that seems like a crowd pleaser. Again, just look at that cast that he’s gotten for it and tell me that this doesn’t have real potential. I maintain that Braff has the skills to be an award winner one day, especially if he ever does get around to that remake of Open Hearts that he’s been trying to mount for years now. For the moment, he’s branching out in a new way with this mainstream comedy. Where he goes next is anybody’s guess, but I’ll be there to see it. Stay tuned…

Be sure to check out Going in Style, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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