Review: 'Last Vegas' a geriatric 'Hangover'

Posted at 05/08/14 12:24 PM

"Last Vegas" is about four close childhood friends who call themselves the Flatbush Four: Billy, Paddy, Archie and Sam. They are now living their own lives in different parts of the US. Sam (Kevin Kline) is in Florida, wallowing in a boring marriage. Archie (Morgan Freeman) is confined by his son in his New Jersey house because he recently survived a stroke. Paddy (Robert De Niro) remains in Brooklyn, and could not stop mourning the death of his dear wife.

When 70 year-old Malibu bachelor Billy (Michael Douglas) decides finally to tie the knot with Lisa, his 30 year-old girlfriend, the four pals get together for his bachelor's party in Vegas. As the raucous Vegas party atmosphere makes for a randy reunion, the virtues of genuine friendship and even true love still manage to rule their memorable weekend getaway.

Kevin Kline was very delightful here. His character Sam was the one looking forward to youthful female diversion, so he gets into the raunchiest situations. Morgan Freeman manages to inject quiet dignity into a role that required him to do a prolonged daddy-dancing scene. This could have been merely played for shallow laughs by a lesser actor. These two fun characters manage to steal the film from the two main characters.

Robert de Niro seems to always be shoehorned into these grumpy old curmudgeonly characters nowadays. Paddy had the most interesting story of the four friends, but de Niro played him like his typical characters of late, with the same acting tics. It became rather familiarly uninteresting. Fortunately, his brilliance as an actor did shine through toward the end.

Michael Douglas plays Billy so naturally, like the aging Lothario he really is in real life. Despite being the central character and the main reason they are in Vegas in the first place, oddly, he seems to be upstaged by his other co-actors. I would have to commend him on having the guts to ride that extreme ride on the rooftop of a skyscraper, which you simply have to see to believe.

Of the supporting cast, I would have to tip my hat to Mary Steenburgen, who played dear Diana Boyle, an aging lounge singer in a second-rate Vegas casino. Despite being 61, she can really brighten up the screen with her radiant beauty and sweet charisma, even with all the young hot models strutting their stuff behind her. Lest it be forgotten, like Douglas, de Niro, Freeman and Kline, Steenburgen is also an Oscar winner for acting ("Melvin and Howard," 1980).

With Las Vegas and a wedding in the synopsis, I thought this would only be a rehash of another hit buddy film "The Hangover," only with senior citizen actors. It really started that way, with a lot of Vegas decadence going on, with wild swimsuit contests and nightclubs. There were even hilarious cameos by Redfoo (of LMFAO) and 50 Cent.

However, as the story developed, we learn more about the relationship of the four friends. We eventually identify with their situations, and appreciate the good heart and intentions of this film. I actually enjoyed this film very much. 7/10.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."