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Last Vegas - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Last Vegas
Directing: C+
Acting: B+
Writing: C
Cinematography: B
Editing: B

The respective ages of Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline are 69, 70, 76, and 66. One of the few genuinely refreshing things about Last Vegas is that the movie is honest about that. Even the love interest is played by Mary Steenburgen, who is 60. That's a somewhat wide age difference that would be typical of younger actors, but here it's practically meaningless. Even though Steenburgen is the one person spared of all the corny age-related jokes in the movie, she's still included in the overlying message of these characters: they're all old. It's just that Diane the lounge singer is the only one of them who is managing to age gracefully.

The inevitable comparisons to The Hangover, just "for old people," are both rampant and apropos. Considering the film's target audience -- or, at least, most likely audience -- it's not particularly a bad thing. Even my dad told me he read that, "and I thought, okay, that sounds amusing."

"Amusing" is what it is. It's also preposterous, predictable, and essentially a feature-length commercial for Las Vegas's Aria Resort & Casino. Our four heroes end up getting comped a master suite due to a huge blackjack win -- something that will never happen to any of this movie's viewers -- and then the hotel's name and logo get wedged into every shot or line of dialogue possible. One wonders if the movie's production budget was bankrolled by this product placement.

But, there's not much reason to be that cynical about this movie. The people who are interested in it are going to avoid it; those who think it looks idiotic can rest assured they dodged a bullet. But considering who this movie is made for, basically, it works -- mostly on the basis of the four lead actors themselves, who are just plain fun to watch.

We meet each of them at the beginning in their respective old-person worlds in which they now live. Sam (Kevin Kline) is doing water aerobics in Florida. Archie (Morgan Freeman) is frustrated by his grown son micromanaging his health. Paddy (Robert DeNiro) is a hermit in his native New York apartment still pining for the wife that died a year prior. And Billy (Michael Douglas) is living in a beach house with a woman less than half her age, to whom he proposes at the funeral of another friend.

Hence the trip to Las Vegas: Billy calls Sam and Archie, all friends who grew up together with Paddy in New York, to tell them he's getting married. They insist they'll throw him a bachelor party before he gets married in Las Vegas. Billy and Paddy are not speaking, which we learn soon enough is because Billy had not made it to Paddy's wife's wedding. So Billy asks Sam and Archie to convince Paddy to come.

Paddy only comes along being under the impression that it's just a trip to Vegas without Billy there; they meet at the airport. Predictable conflict ensues. Reluctant shenanigans are made. If you just go with it and look past how riddled with clichés the plot projection is, it's actually pretty fun to watch. Director John Turteltaub wisely keeps the "craziness" fairly subtle. It's still beyond unrealistic for characters of this age, from the party they have in their suite (complete with a cameo by Fifty Cent) to their winding up judging a bikini contest, but it's never wacked-out crazy like The Hangover. That level of crazy might actually kill these guys.

They all meet Diana (Steenburgen) singing in an empty lounge. We know long before they do that Diana is going to be set up as a new version of Paddy's wife, as both he and Billy fall for her. That's the conflict we get in this story; by and large Kline and Freeman are left to be comic window dressing, although they do all four of them have to address how they're coping with growing old.

If nothing else, Last Vegas is an effective comedy. It's far from a great one, but it delivers the laughs it promises. Much of the humor is clever, even if the overall telling of this ridiculous story is not. And these guys all have great chemistry, are believable as longtime friends, and offer their own reliable charms. In short, this movie works great for who it's made for -- basically, decades-long fans of these actors. For anyone else, you're not really missing anything.

Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro and Michael Douglas phone in it from LAST VEGAS.

Overall: B-
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