Last Vegas, despite the clunky title and a tried-and-true plot, has plenty of funny moments, due mostly to the charm and enthusiasm of its aging cast and the script itself, by Dan Fogelman. But is it inspiring? A laugh-out-loud comedy? Well, no and no — but it still mostly works, at least as well as any movie that combines transvestites, torch singers, gambling, and Viagra can.
It’s “The Hangover” crossed with “Space Cowboys.” Four lifelong friends reunite for the bachelor party/wedding of one of their number who is marrying a woman almost forty years his junior in the titular town. Of course, there’s some bitterness and resentment between two of the friends, and all four suffer from what one might call old-man-in-movies disease (see “Red,” for example). Each of the men has some sort of hangup or hangups that will be sorted out during this debaucherous weekend.
Billy (Michael Douglas) is the groom-to-be. Billy is successful, possibly a real-estate magnate of some kind. I wasn’t sure, but he did have a house that appeared to be floating in the water and did have a very young girlfriend (Bre Blair), so I assumed he was rich. It was a safe assumption. At any rate, Billy pops the question to young Lisa while delivering a eulogy, and before you know it the stage is set for a quickie Vegas wedding, just like all classy couples have.
Billy calls two of his old pals, Sam and Archie, who immediately volunteer to throw the bachelor party. Sam (Kevin Kline) lives in Florida, where he’s all too aware of his age, since he’s constantly surrounded by old, old people (and has an artificial knee and hip, to boot). Archie (Morgan Freeman) lives with his son, daughter-in-law, and grand-baby and has suffered a mild stroke, so he’s now babied to the point of silliness. Both men are prime candidates to get wild and crazy, but there’s one slot left in their old gang, the Flatbush Four — that would be Paddy (Robert De Niro), who has lived in utter solitude since the passing of his beloved Sophie and who harbors plenty of ill will toward Billy.
A few weighty issues are tackled here. Should Sam cheat on his wife, with her permission? (And is that cheating?) Should Archie feel guilty about telling his son he’s gone on a church retreat? Should Billy actually marry a woman he may not love? Should Billy and Paddy talk out their differences like grownups, or should they passively/aggressively deal with it? The answers given by the characters probably won’t surprise you much.
But for a movie that does pretty much stick to a standard formula, Last Vegas receives a big boost from its decorated cast. Counting Mary Steenburgen, who plays Diana the singer, there are seven Oscars among five of the actors. Pretty impressive resumes, is what I’m saying here. It looks as if each of them really buys into the Writing 101 plot and therefore sells the heck out of it without resorting to scene chewing. Steenburgen, in particular, is both hilarious and graceful in a crucial supporting role. This is also a movie that reminds us how old Douglas is — he looks ancient here — and that Kline is still around. In fact, at first it seems weird that Kevin Kline, of all people, is considered an old guy, but he’s only three years younger than Douglas. Huh.
In all, this is not a movie that’s going to win any awards. The game cast does try hard and succeeds at the comedic moments more than anything else. So, sure, it’s a geriatric version of Tom Hanks’ old “Bachelor Party,” but it does have some sweet elements to it as well as a few endearing performances. Those are not, however, strong enough reasons to see this on opening weekend — Last Vegas is perhaps a movie best appreciated on a smaller screen.