Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, and Kevin Kline team up in this dramedy about four old friends gathering in Las Vegas for a bachelor party. The sixty-somethings are all facing some crisis in their life and ready to party like teenagers, even if they have to remember to take their pills. Along with the laughs, there is actually some pretty heavy drama about coming to the end of your life and losing your friends along the way from the cast of Hollywood heavyweights.
Billy (Douglas) is the one getting hitched to someone half his age because he is afraid of getting older. Many of the gags come from his situation as he is teased relentlessly by his friends. Paddy (De Niro) must deal with the passing of his beloved wife, and a new life alone in the apartment he once shared with her as a home. Archie (Freeman) has been dealing with the boredom of living with his mothering son who manages his medicines and mounting health problems (he is recuperating from a mild stroke). Sam (Kline) is also surviving boredom while living the retired life in Florida. He longs to get away from his wife and he sees the Las Vegas trip as an excellent opportunity (aided by the fact that his wife gives him a weekend pass complete with a condom and Viagra pill).
All four have been friends since they were in grade school, and the flashback scenes of the kids as De Niro and team are pretty spot on. The flashbacks explain the bond they all have, and it centers around a stolen bottle of Scotch. Paddy and Billy also fell for the same girl, but Paddy was the one that got her heart.
When the foursome hit Vegas, they find things have changed a little. It’s a young person’s town and they are old. They stop by a favorite hotel from the past and find it being remodeled. The bar/lounge in the hotel is still open and all four friends are left spellbound by lounge singer Diana (Mary Steenburgen). She their age but has a good out-look on life. She also catches the attention of Paddy (who is grieving for his wife, but sees Diana as a chance to move on) and Billy (who is really unsure about his impending nuptials, and finds himself attracted to a woman his own age).
It becomes a toss-up as to who she will pick, and the bad blood between the two comes out in the competition to win her hand. History seems to be repeating itself as an old conflict.
Within the confines of the Las Vegas party scene, the movie is not what one would probably expect based on its trailers -an old folk’s Hangover. I was pleasantly surprised that it is not that at all. It is a coming of age story of old people. What happens after four friends grow up, have families, and then are old? The four men are all at some kind of crossroad in their life and the weekend leaves them with what they need to move forward.
The real gems of this movie are the actors that portray the friends. It is a lot of fun for the audience to see the talents of De Niro, Kline, Freeman, and Douglas team up for the first time on the big screen. I would love to see more of them together. Their banter and back and forth tongue in cheek was great. Kline and Freeman get the bulk of the laughs as Kline just wants to find a chance to use his weekend pass, and Freeman just wants to find some music where he can actually dance. There is also a great gag where the four get to play mobsters, and De Niro slips into that character he has played so well for so many years.
The film really pops on Blu-ray with all the Vegas colors dominating the screen and being almost as vivid as Douglas’ spray tan. The bonus material includes great cast interviews about how the film came to be and what attracted the actors to it.
Although I had set my expectations low for Last Vegas, I was thoroughly entertained. Yes, the movie is not as good as it should have been given the talent on the screen, and is extremely predictable. Even with its faults, it manages to have enough laughs to keep the audience entertained, and it is great to see the four actors together. Younger people might not appreciate some of the jokes, but the film’s target audience will find plenty to like.