Just Getting Started (2017)

  • Time: 91 min
  • Genre: Action | Comedy
  • Director: Ron Shelton
  • Cast: Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, Rene Russo, Glenne Headly, Joe Pantoliano


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.


  • It’s been 14 years since writer-director Ron Shelton released his last film, the solid if unmemorable Hollywood Homicide. Prior to that, Shelton was known for his smart, engaging, adult comedy dramas that were often set in the sports world like Cobb, Tin Cup, White Men Can’t Jump, and, primarily, Bull Durham, for which he earned a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination. With that resume, it’s particularly disappointing that he should return to the screen with the endlessly inept and juvenile Just Getting Started, which is a treasure trove of embarrassment, not only for Shelton but for its A-league cast.

    Morgan Freeman stars as Duke Diver, first glimpsed in a TV promo for the Villa Capri luxury retirement resort in Palm Springs by lady crime boss Delilah (Jane Seymour). Turns out Duke is an ex-mob lawyer that has been hiding in a witness protection program, revelling in his life as the uber-popular manager of Villa Capri. He’s the man, basking in the attention of both his close circle of pals (including Joe Pantoliano and George Wallace) and the frisky female retirees played by Glenne Headley, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Elizabeth Ashley (all criminally wasted), all of whom vie for his…ahem…services. It’s no wonder that the swaggering arrival of Leo (Tommy Lee Jones) ruffles his feathers, especially when Leo nonchalantly challenges him in all areas of his expertise, namely golf, poker and chasing after the ladies.

    As if the rivalry with Leo and evading the attempts on his life by Delilah’s son aren’t enough for Duke, there’s the sudden presence of Suzie (Rene Russo), the auditor who threatens Duke’s freewheeling ways as manager of Villa Capri. Naturally, Duke and Leo compete for her attention. Whilst all three leads are charismatic and effortless performers, any potential at a crackling love triangle is undercut by Shelton’s infantile screenplay. It’s genuinely frustrating because Shelton has proven himself to be far better than this in his previous films, which means that either he has lost his talent for crafting rich characters and witty and intelligent dialogue or he was just plain lazy. The former is forgivable but, unfortunately, Just Getting Started completely smacks of the latter and that is simply not acceptable.

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  • Just Getting Started (my latest review) is a loose and rather harmless action comedy by the reclusive Ron Shelton. Seeing that Shelton hasn’t made a film in about fourteen years, “Started” shows that he isn’t quite on his A game. Still, Just Getting Started isn’t as bad as some critics have made it out to be. The pic feels like a future Christmas classic to be viewed by many old timers in Palm Springs, CA. Heck, I’ll at least go with a mixed rating.

    “Started” stars 80-year-old Morgan Freeman and 71-year-old Tommy Lee Jones. This is the first movie they’ve ever been in together and I’d be lying if I said it was an epic event. It’s interesting watching Freeman and Jones bring the funny considering that their entire body of work is mostly dramas and thrillers. Just Getting Started portrays them as AARP ladies men, capable of getting with much younger women as they look like poster children for that little blue pill.

    The story of “Started” involves one Duke Diver (now there’s an original character name). Diver played by Morgan Freeman, is an ex-mob lawyer who’s now in the Witness Protection Program. Duke moves out west where he’s the manager of a swanky resort. Everybody there worships Diver until a formal FBI agent named Leo comes along and signs up for residency at said resort (Leo is played by a drawling Tommy Lee Jones). The two bicker and compete with each other in games of cards, golf, ping pong, and limbo. Eventually, this is all to win the love of an auditor name Suzie (the sexily-voiced Rene Russo).

    Ron Shelton shoots Just Getting Started as if he’d been studying material like Caddyshack, 1986’s Club Paradise, a sequel to Meatballs, or his own golf classic, Tin Cup. In fact, he actually uses phrases from “Cup” to put in his sometimes charming yet lazy screenplay (in “Started” you’ll hear the words “Romeo”, “huevos”, and “waggle” on occasion). Basically, “Started” is like a senior citizen farce for juveniles, a sledgehammering Xmas film with palm trees, and a non-periled mob flick all rolled into one. As probably the most laid-back vehicle in Shelton’s 30-year career as a filmmaker, Just Getting Started looks as though a lot of people had fun making it.

    All in all, I like Just Getting Started as a movie title and I dug the fact that director Ron Shelton included a cameo by Johnny Mathis (how random is that). Like most of Shelton’s flicks, “Started” is sometimes metaphoric, sometimes sports-related, and filled with semi-wry dialogue exchanges. However, if you compare it to his best stuff (White Men Can’t Jump, Bull Durham, Dark Blue, and Tin Cup mentioned earlier), it’s sadly a step below. Still worth at least one viewing. Rating: 2 and a half stars.

    Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

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