There’s a genre of film that I’d like to christen the “senior comedy.” Films like The Bucket List, Going in Style, and Dirty Grandpa are examples of this niche that caters heavily to the Baby Boomer dollar. These films are often defined by their willingness to embrace taboos about sex, violence, or just give license to act like a juvenile idiot-which is just fine, if done right. Just Getting Started is just another in the long line of such “senior comedies,” but done wrong. What’s more, Just Getting Started is simply the latest cynical Christmas cash grab, released solely to squeeze profits out of the holiday season.
Morgan Freeman stars as Duke Driver, a self-proclaimed suave senior citizen living the high life as ‘The Man’ at a plush retirement home. However, Driver is also in witness protection, as the wife of a mob boss he put away is trying to kill him. While these events transpire, Tommy Lee Jones shows up as Leo, another charming old man who immediately becomes a thorn in Duke’s side, muscling in on his ‘cool’ territory and stealing his women. The movie wants you to think Duke’s potential killer is Tommy Lee Jones, but it’s so obviously not I have no idea why the film bothers to keep up this charade. A series of events then unravel that are supposed to be funny but are really mind-numbing. You will be wishing for death long before the credits roll.
Morgan Freeman attempts to deliver a charming performance as Duke Driver. Although Freeman’s a great actor, he’s clearly in this terrible movie for a check. The movie tells us that Duke is this debonair, awesome guy, but he’s more of a drunken egomaniac or bumbling buffoon rather than an aged Van Wilder. I understand that Driver’s agitated befuddlement and irrational jealousy are supposedly the results of Tommy Lee Jones’ sudden arrival, but Driver never seems that cool or suave to begin with. Driver constantly screws things up and can’t seem to see that Rene Russo, the woman with fighting Jones for, wants nothing to do with him. Tommy Lee Jones shows up and plays himself. He’s mean, old, and cranky. He constantly one-ups Morgan Freeman, but also just seems to want to be left to his own devices. Inexplicably, the two become friends despite spending the entire movie fighting over petty stature and Rene Russo. It’s really stupid; it’s like the director just flipped a switch to suddenly decide that the antagonists should instead be friends.
Ron Shelton, who hasn’t directed a movie since 2003 (the god-awful Hollywood Homicide), also wrote this terrible tripe. Ronny has no sense of comedic timing, pacing, or general idea of how a screenplay should be written. The characters have no personal depth, development arcs, or much meaning at all, except for the most superficial outlines/edges. Most of the story is played oddly straight or is so unfunny that I didn’t even realize that hilarity had ensued. The story takes place in Arizona, and yet the production team decided to set the story during Christmas as a bad gimmick. Shelton could have removed every Christmas reference and the movie would basically be unchanged. The few jokes this movie has are bad, lazy, and unoriginal. The two “out of control grandpas” go so far as to beat up a Santa impersonator, that’s funny! Old people talk about sex and possess libidos, hilarious! They also drink and compete with each other like stupid frat boys, great!
Just Getting Started is a waste of your time. I just watched this hot garbage and I’m struggling mightily to say good things about the film, so I won’t. Remember the description I gave about Duke being in witness protection? The film sets up an entire subplot about the mob boss’ wife coming to kill Duke herself….and then the movie just forgets about it. The plot thread is never finished. They didn’t even bother to edit out that scene. There was also a car chase scene at one point and it was so boring I almost laughed. This movie was bland, sloppy, lazy, and horrible and if you were one of the five people who saw it, then I hope it passed through your brain quickly. I mean, if you really like Morgan Freeman or Tommy Lee Jones then go see this movie, but otherwise, save your money for Star Wars or something.
TLDR: Just Getting Started is a yet another iteration in a long line of bad, bland, boring Christmas comedies typically regurgitated by lazy movie studios during this time of year. 1/5 Stars