It’s easy to knock Last Vegas even before seeing it. “Hey look, it’s the Hangolder!” “Hey, look at all these old legends phoning it for a quick paycheck!” “I can’t believe all these great actors stooped to this!”
I’ll be honest, that what my first impression after seeing the trailer. I thought it looked pretty ridiculous, appearing to be a quick Hollywood cash-in relying on the strength of the names alone.
Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (Robert De Niro), Archie (Morgan Freeman), and Sam (Kevin Kline) are life-long friends who have referred to themselves as the “Flatbush Four” since childhood (as seen in an opening flashback sequence with look-a-like kid versions of the actors–which, kudos for finding those children, casting director!).
Now in their 60’s/70’s, each man is in a different place in his life. After suffering a mild stroke, fun-craving Archie is treated like a child by his son (Michael Ealy), not allowed to do much more than sit safely in a chair all day long. On the other hand, Paddy prefers to do just that and stews in his apartment grieving the love of his life. Sam is bored by the retired Florida life and he and his wife are in a romantic rut. Billy however, is living large though also living in a state of denial about his age. He dresses in clothes designed for someone decades younger and is comically tanned to the shade of a pumpkin. Of course he also has a girlfriend (Bre Blair) young enough to be his granddaughter.
While delivering the eulogy at a funeral, Billy impulsively proposes to 31 year old Lisa, yes, during the actual eulogy which no one seems to mind. After she accepts, Billy decides to reunite the old gang with a bachelor party weekend of debauchery (dinners after 5 PM) in Vegas. Archie sees it as a chance to temporarily escape from his overprotective son and have some long-needed fun. Sam gets an unexpected gift from his wife—a condom, a Viagra pill, and no questions asked—in an attempt to reinvigorate their sex life. But grumpy Paddy is not as enthusiastic as the others, still holding a long-standing grudge against Billy.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed watching the ensemble of Hollywood legends let loose and play off each other. They’re clearly okay with it and having a good time, so lighten up cinema-snobs. This isn’t high art, but it’s also not the worst way to spend 105 minutes.
Just look at Morgan Freeman smiling and tell me that doesn’t bring a little joy to your life. It doesn’t? You are a heartless bastard.
While the top-billed four inhibit their roles with each’s own unique brand of reliable charm, it’s Mary Steenburgen who delivers the strongest performance as Diana, a casino lounge singer who unwittingly reignites a feud between Billy and Paddy. Looking amazing but natural at 60 (take note Hollywood chipmunk-cheeks and trout-mouths, this is the way to do it) she breezily steals the spotlight away from the likes of De Niro and Douglas with ease. It’s refreshing to see a strong and well-written female character, especially one of mature age and Steenburgen kills it. On top of that, she’s a wonderful singer and even wrote one of the songs she performs in the film.
There are some stumbles, but much of the film is a smartly-written (credit to writer Dan Fogelman, Crazy, Stupid, Love) and heartwarming take on friendship, aging, loss, and love. And it’s often very funny without being vulgar or offensive, though it teeters on the edge a few times.
This isn’t to say that many of the gags aren’t completely predictable. There are plenty of jokes about hip fractures, Viagra, fanny packs, and other old people stuff. But did you really think there wouldn’t be?
It’s also pretty easy to correctly guess each plot development and aside from the rivalry between Billy and Paddy, which is ultimately resolved neatly and quickly, there isn’t much conflict. It’s just the four guys running around Las Vegas (which is presented as a squeaky clean Disney-esque wonderland) clashing with a few young whippersnappers and becoming the toast of the town.
Remember LMFAO? Those guys with the “I’m Sexy and I Know It” song that made you want to shove pencils in your ears? The ones responsible for that whole ugly neon clothing trend a couple years ago?
Yeah, them. I had forgotten about them too and was perfectly happy about that. But then I saw Last Vegas.
During their stay, the four men somehow end up judging a poolside bikini-contest (You see, it’s hilarious because they’re old geezers and the contestants are young hot girls!), hosted by the now-defunct duo in a cameo. I’m guessing at the time of filming, LMFAO was still a timely pop culture phenomenon and it was a desperate attempt by the producers to try to draw in some younger viewers.
It wouldn’t have been that bad if we didn’t have to be subjected to member Redfoo thrusting his crotch into De Niro’s face.
I mean, I hated the Focker sequels too but damn, Bobby didn’t deserve that.
This is the one scene that was exactly what I was afraid this movie would be as a whole. It’s also the sole point in the film where the actors appear to be embarrassed by the material. Thankfully, it’s over as quickly as LMFAO’s career was.
If you allow it to be, Last Vegas is lot more fun—and funny—than you’d expect. Take your mom to a matinee or save it for a future lazy Netflix day. Really, this could have been a humiliating train-wreck for all involved and it’s far from that, so long as the viewer gives it a chance.
Take a drink: whenever Sam mentions his free pass to cheat.
Take a drink: every time anyone talks about Archie’s stroke.
Take a drink: whenever the old bottle of Scotch appears on screen.
Take a drink: whenever anyone mentions Paddy’s dead wife.
Take a drink: at every misunderstanding between the older men and younger characters.
Take a drink: every time a young person calls one of the four “old.”
Take a drink: at every Bombay Sapphire product placement.
Chug: during the LMFAO scene. Seriously, it’s awful.