Film Review – Last Vegas
When the first trailer for Last Vegas began making the internet rounds, there was nary a comment section that didn’t immediately call it out as being “The Hangover for old people!” An understandable assessment given the locale, but, where the Hangover series reveled in raunchiness, Last Vegas seems content lumbering grouchily through the gates of Schmaltzville.
Let’s go down the line, shall we? Michael Douglas stars as Billy, a wealthy bachelor who stubbornly refuses to accept his own mortality and spontaneously proposes to his 30-year-old girlfriend while delivering a eulogy. (He’s a romantic ,if nothing else.) When word of this reaches his long-time friends Sam and Archie (Kevin Kline and Morgan Freeman), they insist on heading out to Vegas and throwing him a bachelor party. Rounding out the geriatric foursome is Paddy (Robert De Niro), although due to bad blood between him and Billy, he’s a reluctant tag-along with a permanent scowl.
Perpetually sourpussed Paddy resents Billy’s carefree attitude and lack of sympathy surrounding a loss he’s recently suffered. This leads to numerous scenes of squabbling that are occasionally interrupted by Freeman’s Archie delightfully engaging in activities that could very well kill him. Meanwhile, Sam has been given permission from his wife to sleep with another woman and spends the bulk of the movie ineptly attempting to do so. OH SAM, CAN’T YOU SEE THAT’S A MAN lol.
I make fun, but there are a number of decent gags in the first half-hour or so of Last Vegas. Kevin Kline especially seems to be having fun. It’s with the introduction of Mary Steenburgen as a sultry lounge singer that the movie starts to lag, and that’s not even a knock on her performance. She is by far the most grounded character, which unfortunately just amplifies what a tonal mess it all really is. A fresh rivalry is sparked between Billy and Paddy as they compete for her affections, and the creaky melodrama kicks into high gear. Too bad for us.
To say De Niro is slumming it here would be an insult to slums. I kept imagining director Jon Turteltaub shouting directions from off screen such as “Frown bigger! More squinting!” De Niro’s later career choices have been an assortment of disappointments, and the allusions he so willingly casts to past greatness make your cringe reflex work into overtime. If Aaron Seltzter and Jason Friedberg passed him a script called “You Talkin’ To Me?,” I doubt he’d even pull out his reading glasses before signing.
It’s difficult to invest in a story of childhood chums later overcoming adversity in the face of death when there’s not a believable moment shared between the lot of ’em. A missed opportunity, considering an opening montage showcasing their exploits as kids managed to wring more sympathy for them than the entire two hours that followed. Much-needed character beats are discarded in favor of ill-advised LMFAO cameos and “hilarious” mispronunciations of “50 Cent.”
There are a few laughs to be had, but they’re outnumbered by the number of times you’ll be checking your watch. Each of the main four are accomplished actors and, with the possible exception of Money Grab De Niro, deserve better. In the meantime, I think A Fish Called Wanda is on Netflix.