By: Henry J. Fromage (Six Pack) –
Folks don’t talk about Ron Shelton in the same breath as a Barry Levinson or a Rob Reiner, but this contemporary of theirs was once just as good, and is now just as fucking toothless. Sure, it’s been 15 years since his also garbage Hollywood Homicide, but Just Getting Started proves that you don’t to put out a series of painfully mediocre films to prove you’ve lost it- one will do.
What does that tagline even mean?
Morgan Freeman is in Witness Protection in a Palm Springs retirement community, when he’s spotted in a commercial he clearly shot on purpose by the matriarch of the mob family he ratted on, who sends her son to kill him instead of a professional who a mob family would clearly have access to. Meanwhile, Tommy Lee Jones joins the community and threatens Freeman’s alpha dog status, what with his three girlfriends and three idiot lackeys and poker and golf. Finally, Rene Russo shows up for them to fight over. These disparate story elements come together as lamely as you’d expect.
I went to Palm Springs once on a business trip, and I liked it, not that this movie shows you much more than a few landscape shots of the mountains. Tommy Lee Jones is mostly just himself in the movie, which is always fine.
The first title card was for something called Endurance Media. I knew I was in for a bad time right then and there, further confirmed by some poorly integrated Youtube footage of people dealing with cars stuck in snow for the opening scene “somewhere in New Jersey”, before we hop to Palm Springs to Christmas music and some elf statues in the sun. It is apparently non-stop hilarious to Ron Shelton that they celebrate Christmas in Palm Springs, as seemingly every scene transition comes back to this joke.
This shit must be Ron Shelton’s Caddyshack
It’s clear from that very first scene, in which Jane Seymour screeches in a bad wig and a cheap-looking set likely very far away from Palm Springs, that very, very little effort was expended on this desiccated turd. That’s underlined by most of the technical aspects of the film, including just so much unnecessarily bad dubbing, back-projected “action scene” car chases in which the actors chat like they’re having an afternoon tea, and schizophrenic camera movements that suggest even the cameraman was getting bored. Reshoots? Why bother?
The Greek Chorus of old idiots who make up the principal supporting cast further accentuate how little actors of a certain age have to do, and what drivel they’re willing to voice if they’re paid scale (shit, I hope they were paid scale). They include: Joe Pantoliano (an Emmy for The Sopranos), Elizabeth Ashley (Emmy, BAFTA, and Golden Globe nominations), Glenne Headley (two Emmy nominations), Sheryl Lee Ralph (an Independent Spirit Award for To Sleep with Anger), George Wallace (48 credits, not counting 108 credits for various comedy specials), and Graham Beckel (117 credits, including L.A. Confidential and Leaving Las Vegas).
There are no stakes or forward motion to this, it’s pure direct to video listlessness. There couldn’t have been more than a take or two for any of these scenes, and as the production dragged on, the energy of the filmmaking apparently decreased on a steady downward line. It just gets worse and worse precisely at the time the film half-heartedly heads in an action film direction. The damn thing’s not even the 91 promised minutes- giving up around 80 or so.
Did they seriously get Subway to provide craft service?
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of any of this is Morgan Freeman’s involvement- couldn’t somebody give him something better to do? He very much acts down to the level of his script in this- sadly broad and hacky. The man’s 80 years old and a national treasure. Let’s find roles that are worth all of our time.
Just Getting Started is an impotent comedy actively trying to reduce all participants to official has-been status. I can’t imagine Ron Shelton getting a wide release again after this.
Just Getting Started (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for geriatric sex talk
Take a Drink: for desert Christmas incongruities
Take a Drink: for Jane Seymour scenes
Take a Drink: for golf
Take a Drink: “shut up”
Do a Shot: for F150 commercials
Do a Shot: oooohh, they said the title!