Last Vegas (2013)
“It’s going to be legendary”
Last Vegas (2013)
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Cast: Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman
Synopsis: Three friends take a break from their day-to-day lives to throw a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their last remaining single pal.
Hollywood doesn’t often provide leading roles for those stars whose best years are behind them, but every now and then someone hits on the bright idea of gathering a few of them together for a novelty flick built around the fact that they’re all so very, very old. In the early 1970s The Over-the-Hill Gang briefly rejuvenated the careers of old warhorses like Walter Brennan and Andy Devine, while at the beginning of this century, Space Cowboys saw septuagenarian Clint Eastwood and his gang shooting off into space. Now it’s the turn of Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline to metaphorically cast off their walking sticks and wade into a relentless stream of jokes about ageing – most of which you’re likely to have heard before.
They play childhood friends who have remained in touch despite their lives taking diverging paths. Billy (Douglas – Haywire, Ant-Man) is now a successful businessman who works out of his beachfront mansion and is about to get hitched (for the first time) to a woman half his age, while Archie (Freeman – Now You See Me, Oblivion), having fully recovered from a mild stroke, is finding it difficult to cope with his son’s over-protective attitude. Sam (Kline – Wild Wild West) is finding that a life of retirement spent watercising with pensioners even older than himself is taking its toll on his zest for life, while Paddy (De Niro – The Family, American Hustle) has become something of a recluse since the death of his wife. Billy’s imminent wedding in Las Vegas gives the old friends an excuse to gather there for a bachelor party, although Paddy has to be tricked into going as he hasn’t forgiven Billy for failing to attend his wife’s wedding. While the two men eventually arrive at an uneasy truce, it looks as if it will be short-lived when they both take a liking to a friendly lounge singer (an appealing performance from Mary Steenburgen – Philadelphia, The Help).
Last Vegas is one of those movies that is more likeable than it has any right to be thanks largely to the performances of its leading men. You really do feel that these old boys have known each other for half-a-century or more, and that the humorous insults they trade with one another are a sign of their unspoken affection. And the stars all use their experience to wring laughs from material that is patchy to say the least. There are a few genuinely funny moments – Freeman’s Vodka Red Bull-fuelled stream-of-consciousness monologue is a stand-out moment, for sure – but they appear only infrequently between the generic jokes about haemorrhoids, senility and Viagra. While each of the stars makes the most of their moment in the spotlight, it’s probably Freeman who comes off strongest as a man who’s not prepared to allow an open-ended notice of intent from the reaper prevent him from enjoying what remains of his life. Paradoxically, while Kline’s sub-plot is the most far-fetched – he receives a one-off free pass from his loving wife in the hope that it will spark their becalmed marriage back into life – it also provides some of the funniest moments thanks to the forthright manner in which Sam explains his situation to potential conquests.
Last Vegas was slaughtered by the critics, but did quite well at the box office – which pretty much shows it’s not a movie that stands up well under analysis, but which will entertain if you’re in an undemanding state of mind.
(Reviewed 22nd February)