Last Vegas is probably the most harmless movie you’ll see all year. Starring a quartet of Hollywood’s most famous and legendary faces, including Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline, this Jon Turteltaub buddy comedy thrives off the chemistry of its leads, all clearly having a ball given the opportunity to work together. Some of screenwriter Dan Fogelman’s jokes fall a bit flat with a sense of dopey predictability, but for the most part this talented cast elevates the obvious jokes and keeps things moving at a light and humorous pace. Early trailers and promotional material had many touting the film as “The Hangover with old people,” but Last Vegas, though similarly relishing in Sin City hijinks, is much more concerned with being a sweet little gem of a matinee movie and that is exactly what it is. In other words, it’s a hell of a lot better than The Hangover sequels.
The film centers on four best friends – Billy (Douglas), Paddy (DeNiro), Sam (Kline), and Archie (Freeman) – who reunite after many years for a bachelor party in Las Vegas. Each character is saddled with a particularly old age problem – Paddy is a mourning widower, Sam is losing the heat with his wife, Archie is living under the tight jurisdiction of his son after a minor seizure, and Billy is marrying a young bombshell half his age that sets all the events in motion.
For the most part, Kline and Freeman are the comic relief and they are as funny as they’ve ever been. Kline gets unfortunately bogged down in a rather pathetic subplot that has him oozing for young babes after his wife gives him a condom and a Viagra and tells him “Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. While this “free pass” leads to some cringe worthy and awkward moments of Kline on the prowl, the acclaimed actor still has the same killer sense of timing that earned him an Oscar for A Fish Called Wanda. Even when given an age-old Viagra joke, Kline hits it out of the park. Same goes for Freeman, whose fun loving Archie just wants to bust out and break loose, giving the actor some of the best material of the entire film. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Freeman play drunk before but, my god, what a riot he is during one of the film’s central gags.
With Kline and Freeman providing the laughs, Douglas and DeNiro give the film its emotional heft as their characters struggle to make peace over a rocky love triangle from their past. Predictably, a new love triangle emerges in Vegas among the two of them and a beautiful, huskily-voiced lounge singer named Diana, and while that sounds like one big eye-roller, it all works because Diana is played by the wonderful Mary Steenburgen. At 60, Steenburgen is still as radiant as ever; she exudes an ethereal glow that is beyond charming and her smooth vocals help turn this old-timers love triangle into an extremely fresh contrivance.
The rest of the movie is filled out with some gratuitous Vegas shots courtesy of Turteltaub and some humorous though unfilled supporting work from Romany Malco and Entourage’s Jerry Ferrara. Overall, Last Vegas is much better than you’d think from those tacky ads claiming, “It’s going to be legendary”. It’s definitely nowhere near legendary, but it’s great seeing Kline, Freeman, Douglas, and DeNiro with smiles on their faces. That’s enough to get us smiling too and that’s pretty much the movie right there – a nice smile.
Review by Zack Sharf