Picks and Pans Review: Tough Guys
The first thing you notice is the way they wear their fedoras. Under those hats Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster don't look as if they are striking poses; they look strikingly poised. Unfortunately the comedy that enshrines them is never as civilized as its co-stars. As famous train robbers released after 30 years in jail, Douglas and Lancaster face a brave new world that is a kaleidoscope of pop-culture curiosities. Lancaster bemoans that he's relegated to life in an old folks home. Douglas just moans, after an oversexed aerobics teacher tests his stamina. Although Tough Gays pleads for compassion for the elderly—"I'm beginning to think old is a dirty word," says Lancaster—this shrill comedy never practices what it screeches. Instead, director Jeff (Revenge of the Nerds) Kanew treats his old-timers like newcomers in a crass teen exercise. With the fedoras and flattering close-ups, Kanew seems to be trying to canonize his stars, but most of the time the film degrades them. Douglas doesn't really need to moon the audience at this point in his career. Those kicks to the groin don't do much for his art either. In their seventh film together, Douglas and Lancaster display an infectious camaraderie, although both have played the out-of-step social misfit before in better movies—Douglas in Lonely Are the Brave, Lancaster in Atlantic City. These veterans manage to maintain dignity while sidestepping the bird-dropping jokes. Watching Tough Guys, though, is like seeing someone receive a life achievement award and a pie in the face at the same time. (PG)
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