Four school friends reunite for a stag party in Vegas, where groom Billy (Douglas) immediately falls for a lounge singer (Steenburgen). Frail but feisty Archie (Freeman) hits the jackpot and gets VIP treatment, along with Billy, widower Paddy (De Niro) and their married friend Sam (Kline).
It’s The Hangover for OAPs! Well, kind of. While it’s easy to compare two comedies about friends bickering, bonding and getting into unfortunate scrapes in casinos, the age difference is key. And age is what Last Vegas’ humour is all about.
Whether making gags about aching limbs or marvelling at the world of the young and nubile, this script from writer Dan Fogelman (Crazy Stupid Love) is blatant in its efforts to relate to a broad spectrum of older men. There’s one bereaved, one ill, one in a stale marriage and one chasing younger skirt... hang on, make that four. Together with director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure), Fogelman is here to take the grey pound crowd on a vicarious onscreen whirl around Vegas — doctors be damned!
The opening scenes are reasonably amusing, setting up the characters and giving the actors a bit of space. While Archie (Morgan Freeman) roundly mocks rich pal Billy’s (Michael Douglas) younger fiancée, he’s not going to turn down a trip to Vegas and pretends to be at a church weekend to give concerned relatives the slip. Meanwhile grumpy Paddy (Robert De Niro) won’t answer calls and Sam (Kevin Kline) is bored with retirement (“It’s 4:15pm in Naples, Florida, and I’m at a dinner party,” he sighs). But once the story kicks in, Last Vegas is as creaky as its’ heroes joints: it’s predictable and fitfully patronising to both old and young.
Unsurprisingly, this film’s winning hand is its cast. While a fake-tanned Douglas seems weary from his Behind The Candelabra turn, Mary Steenburgen lights up every scene she’s in, even if the romantic storyline is uninvolving. De Niro puts in a relatively restrained performance as sensitive Paddy, and Freeman is quick with a friendly insult. It’s Kline that runs the comedy show, though, and you suspect his funniest lines are ad-libbed. His character also has the best backstory: wife Miriam (Joanna Gleason) has given him a “free pass”, hoping it’ll bring him back with a smile on his face. As for arming him with Viagra and having him judge a bikini beauty pageant? Well, nothing is subtle in Vegas...
While its as tacky and obvious as Sin City itself, this comedy is watchable thanks to a lively pace and spirited turns from Kline and Steenburgen. An unabashed old-timers fantasy.