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Friday, November 1, 2013

Last Vegas Review. Here Is Why You Should See It

Last Vegas Review 
By: MattInRC

Last Vegas is both agreeable but absolutely forgettable. Here's why you should see it anyways.

There comes that day in everyone's life when you're dealt the final card, transitioning you from the vivacious youth of early life, past adulthood, and into the realm of 'senior.' The seriocomedy Last Vegas isn't here to elaborate on why it happens, more on what to do next. It's entirely propped up by the fine performances of four standout veterans - Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Kevin Kline, and Morgan Freeman - and a surprising Mary Steenburgen, who don't say anything too deep, but keep the laughs coming like a Las Vegas leg show. The result is agreeable, but be prepared to remember very little about it afterwards.

Having survived a friendship lasting 50 years, our story fast-forwards to four men in the twilight of their lives. Archie (Freeman), a recent stroke victim, is living with his overly protective son, while Sam (Kline) is living the boring life in a Florida retirement community with his wife, and Paddy (DeNiro) refuses to leave his Brooklyn home after his wife's recent death. On the other end is the wildly energetic ladies man Billy (Douglas), who's about to be married to a woman a third his age. Billy invites his friends to Vegas for a weekend of partying before sealing the deal, but Paddy still holds bitter feelings against Billy, who failed to attend his wife's funeral. As the foursome party like it's 1959, they come across the sassy Vegas lounge singer Diana (Steenburgen), who kindles emotions in both Paddy and Billy. Their feelings bring the boys headlong into a long-simmering argument about age, loyalty, and the real reason why Billy ditched the funeral.

Director John Turtletaub doesn't seek anything new or inventive here, but he does build a congenial environment where our actors seem to know their partying boundaries and stay within them. There's been a lot of debate among critics as to whether this represents a geezer's version of The Hangover, but rest assured, the comedy here is fairly clean and done without nudity. Take that as either a stinging rebuke of the in-your-face craziness of The Wolf Pack, or as a measure of something more digestible and somehow less-appealing. The answer is somewhere in the middle, and Turtletaub isn't here to rock the boat. Instead, he and Writer Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid. Love.) lay on the old-age shtick and the Act 3 schmaltz, buttering the bread to edges. Depending if you like that in Costco-sized jars will entirely depend if you like the actors Turtletaub has assembled. The payoff arrives when the grudge between Paddy and Billy is revealed, allowing our boys to pull up their requisite angry faces for which they are all so well known. A movie like this filled with comedy actors doing drama wouldn't work, and so it's refreshing to see these actors assuming such different roles. To see them cut loose here is reason alone to catch Last Vegas, so long as you know that solemness isn't too far away.

One might conclude that Last Vegas is something mirroring the schmaltz of a Vegas show, but there are also moments of well-timed deep character reflection. Billy seems like a typical playboy until the very good Steenburgen arrives to awaken unforeseen sensitivity which Douglas pulls off quite well, while Kline's loving appreciation for his wife's gift (a card with a condom and a Viagra pill) pulls him back from making a mistake with a much younger woman. Yes, a lot of this seems entirely implausible, and it probably would utter fail with any less of an acting troupe. But, our boys and Steenburgen pull it off and seem to enjoy themselves along the way.

Last Vegas has such an agreeable nature to it that it's hard to be critical; and while it won't bust any records or perhaps ever lead the box office pack, we suspect it might resonate with the older folks wanting their chance to return to a more youthful form. Where it goes from there is anyone's guess, but don't expect to remember a single thing after the lights come up. Perhaps that's old age starting to creep in, or our lack of an emotional punch to anything we're presented. Decide that for yourself and see the film anyways. Last Vegas is rated R for language and adult situations and has a runtime of 105 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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