STARRING: Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen, Jerry Ferrara, Romany Malco, Roger Bart, Michael Ealy, Joanna Gleeson
DIRECTED BY: Jon Turteltaub
For Jon Turteltaub, this is a pretty good film. This is the guy who has spent his career directing films like the National Treasure franchise, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Kid, Phenomenon, and While You Were Sleeping. Basically, he directs mass-appeal films aimed at being generally non-offensive. So, when he was offered to direct the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel equivalent of The Hangover, I’m sure he was a little skittish at first. This is probably the raunchiest film that he’s ever directed, and that’s saying a lot for a PG-13 film.
Like Stand Up Guys earlier this year, it is almost impossible to really hate Last Vegas. If for no other reason than enjoying seeing these four guys on screen together, you have to at least somewhat appreciate the film. Plus, Morgan Freeman doesn’t get to do a lot of comedy work. He’s been cast in dramas and thrillers for most of his career. He’s actually funny in this, which brings me to ask why he doesn’t do more comedy?
Last Vegas starts off with the story of four young boys who are thick as thieves growing up, and then jumps to how they are now as old men. Our leading man, Michael Douglas, plays Billy, who is a rich bachelor finally settling down with a 30-something year old bride. He’s inviting his friends to his wedding in Las Vegas, and his friends all want to throw him a bachelor party ahead of time. Archie (Freeman) is living at home with his son (Michael Ealy) after suffering a stroke, and is tired of being treated like a child. Sam (Kevin Kline) lives in a retirement community in Florida with his wife (Joanna Gleeson), and is basically the youngest person there. He clearly is ready to have some excitement in his life. Those two convince Paddy (Robert DeNiro) to go with them, even though Paddy and Billy aren’t getting along anymore, basically under false pretenses. Paddy’s been a widower for the past two years, and resents Billy for not coming to the funeral.
When they get to Vegas, it is clear that each man has an agenda of their own. Sam has been given a “what happens in Vegas” pass from his wife to have sex, so he’s looking to play that card. Archie withdrew some of his pension money, and plans on having a weekend to remember by blowing his cash. Paddy and Billy spend most of the movie working out their differences, and we find out there’s even more to the history between the two. Their relationship becomes even more complicated when they both fall for a lounge singer, Diana (Mary Steenburgen), which is a greater problem for Billy because he’s about to get married.
It’s not a bad film, nor is it a film that will go down in the history books. I think it is a perfectly enjoyable film that I might not ever feel the need to watch again. I enjoyed seeing these four guys play off of each other, and thought the material they were given was adequate. The plot does make some illogical twists at times, for the sake of the story, but none of those were deal breakers for me. I found myself laughing at some of the bits. I’ve definitely had much worse experiences at the theaters this year.
I know most critics are probably turning their noses up at this film, but like most of Turteltaub’s work, it is created for a mass audience. He has a formula that works (except for Sorcerer’s Apprentice), and it worked again here. If you want to sit in a theatre for two hours, and see something that won’t depress the hell out of you, and doesn’t suck, then this is your film. You probably won’t remember it a few years from now, but who really cares?
FINAL GRADE: B