The Big Screen
12:00 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Movie Review: Last Vegas

It’s seems logical that the big success of the two Hangover films should inspire a similar tale that might be referred to as “the Hangover on Medicare.” That sums up the concept of Last Vegas, in which four lifelong friends meet in Las Vegas for the wedding of one of them and to have the bachelor party of a lifetime. After having seen the rather lackluster trailer a couple of times, I was not necessarily eager to see Last Vegas, but surprise…I really liked it. The cast was terrific, the dialogue funny, and the situations revealed a nice mix of surprises, reconciliations, and warm fuzzies.

This is not a film that will solve world problems, or make an important social statement. But it does reaffirm the importance of friendships, and when you reach the “golden years” to have fun and enjoy instead of lamenting what’s past.

Michael Douglas is about to turn 70, has never been married, and is getting hitched to a 31-year-old woman. He calls friends Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline to meet them in Vegas for the wedding. However, there seems to be some bad blood between Douglas and Robert DeNiro, the fourth member of the group who called themselves “The Flatbush Four” when they were all growing up in Brooklyn. So Freeman and Kline decide to make sure DeNiro is there also, no matter what they have to do to get him there.

In addition to our quartet of Hollywood heavyweights, there’s a fifth Oscar winner in the cast: Mary Steenburgen, and she is still as fresh, funny, and fetching as when I first laid eyes on her in 1978’s Time After Time.

Naturally, all these people have their stories, and in the course of the film lives change. And it’s all done in an acceptable 104 minutes and without any shock value or high drama.

Douglas is rich and tanned. They make use of many hair and teeth jokes about him. DeNiro is widowed and seriously depressed. He rarely leaves his apartment or takes off his bathrobe. Freeman is living with his son and his family after having a mild stroke, and feels like he’s being treated like a prisoner. And Kline is morose about living in Florida with his wife of forty years, and hates going to dinner parties at 4:30 in the afternoon.

But once they convene in Vegas, which is shown to wonderful advantage if you are considering a trip there, the walls crumble, the rules change, the air is cleared, and all is well.

Jon Turtletaub, who helmed While You Were Sleeping, a pleasant Sandra Bullock vehicle of some years back, does an ok job of directing. Scribe Dan Fogelman has penned several animated films including Cars and Tangled, and you can see and hear his puckish humor at work here. There are some excellent peripheral characters, such as Jerry Ferrara as an obnoxious younger person who encounters “The Flatbush Four,” and Romany Malco as the concierge assigned to them at the posh hotel where they’re staying. No one involved in Last Vegas has any great notions of winning another Oscar; they’re just out to have fun. And in the bargain, so do we. It’s one of those movies that leaves you with a big grin on your face while thinking “gee, I wish I could have know those characters. I had a great time with them.”

The PG-13 rated Last Vegas is now playing pretty much everywhere.

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