Last Vegas isn’t exactly The Hangover, but with a much older and more seasoned cast. Jon Turtletaub‘s latest comedy is about four friends getting old and growing apart, only to come together once more to re-discover life and the meaning of it. Last Vegas isn’t a laugh-out-loud comedy, but more of a light comedy, with many dramatic moments. It plays out exactly like you’d expect, but there’s just something about seeing guys like De Niro, Douglas and Freeman let loose and have some fun that makes it something that isn’t a complete disaster.
Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (Robert De Niro), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline) were once best friends. The four of them had their own little neighborhood gang when they were kids, but then life hit them all very differently and they went their separate ways.
Billy is a wealthy business man, with a hot young girlfriend. Paddy lives a lonely life after losing his wife recently, while Archie spends most of his time getting babysat by his son and Sam just sort of lives the retired life with his wife. All men are going about their day-to-day stuff with little to no enjoyment whatsoever, until Billy decides to marry a woman half his age and invite his old crew to Las Vegas for one last bachelor party.
This bachelor party represents much more to these men then just getting together with old friends and having a good time. To Billy, it means finally coming to terms with his old age and realizing and appreciating what matters the most in his life. To Paddy, it means learning to finally let go of his wife and learning how to have fun once again. To Archie, it means doing whatever he wants without having to report to his son. It means doing the things he enjoys with the people he enjoys doing them with and to Sam it means rediscovering what he loves the most in life and learning how to find joy in those people.
Each man brings his own baggage to the table, but they all squash it together, as a team and as best friends.
Last Vegas isn’t your traditional Vegas movie in the sense that the settings and locations are emphasized, while the story and its characters are put on the back-burner. Jon Turtletaub‘s direction doesn’t forget about the locales, but it does a great job focusing on the four core characters. This isn’t The Hangover for old folks. This is just a simple story about four old guys accepting their lives and learning not to give up, despite their old age, tons of medications and constant back aches.
It’s an incredibly light film in terms of how it handles the comedy or really any given situation, but then it dives a little deeper and attempts to unfold each character’s problems, with the support of the other three. This is where Last Vegas will either lose you or have you even more invested. Make no mistake about it, Dan Fogelman‘s writing is surface-level drama at best, but watching seasoned legends like Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline handle the material makes it all the better and that much more true.
De Niro and Douglas do most of the heavy lifting, while Freeman goes wildly comedic, with Kline backing him up and making sure the witty humor keeps snapping left and right. Turtletaub balances these four oddballs just fine, giving each of them a chance to shine and become important to the film.
Yes, you can spell out the film’s last act from a mile away and yes you can predict just about every single emotional beat by the film’s sappy musical cues, but that doesn’t make the film any less effective.
Last Vegas is a harmless film that does more good than bad. It proves that Douglas, Freeman and especially De Niro can still act with the best of them. Freeman and De Niro have been known to drift off and do family films or just bad films in general, that make you question their earlier careers, yet Last Vegas respectfully brings them back to that level of fine acting, mixed with a little free-spirited silliness.
I can’t say that Last Vegas impressed me or really blew me away, but it did move me ever so slightly. Turtletaub’s film is safe and predictable, but it does come with some meaning behind it and that meaning is made all the more real by the actors inhabiting the characters. All four of these men have had great careers and are reaching that age where they will no doubt look back and remember the good times, while fear what’s to follow, but Last Vegas shows that there’s still plenty of life in everyone, no matter your age and no matter your life experiences. It’s all about what you make of it and who you decide to make it with.
Last Vegas – 7/10