You’re telling me there’s a movie where Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline can be seen suckling alcohol from the busty teet of a naked ice luge? Yup, where do I line up?
Unfortunately, despite that epic lead-in, Last Vegas isn’t The Hangover meets Grumpy Old Men, but it does assemble quite the iconic cast, as if seeing Rocky boxing Jake La Motta or witnessing Rambo and The Terminator break out of prison wasn’t enough this year. With this crazy (by senior standards) bachelor party, we see the likes of – ha, yeah, not listing the bevy of iconic roles these four legends have portrayed, but how does it get better than Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Kevin Kline, and Michael Douglas? Cue the Wayne’s World “We’re not worthy!” bowing.
Ever since they were children, Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (Robert De Niro), Sam (Kevin Kline), and Archie (Morgan Freeman) have been the best of friends, calling themselves “The Flatbush Four.” Years and years later, after they have aged into their sixties, Billy finally decides to get married, which prompts the remaining group to organize his bachelor party in Las Vegas. Reuniting once again, these four old-timers plan to party like they’re teens, hitting the Vegas strip, and maybe even staying up past 11:00PM – if two of the friends can put the past behind them.
On the surface, Last Vegas is a film that’s glorious in concept, but only passable in practice. Seeing these over-the-hill actors party like it’s 1969 may sound like a no-lose situation, but Dan Fogelman’s script stays safe enough to be watchable by all audiences. You’re not going to see Morgan Freeman pimping it up at a strip club or anything, but you will see the gleeful fun of Morgan’s character experiencing a Red Bull and vodka for the first time – and describing the experience pretty damn well.
Fogelman weighs down an otherwise entertainingly distracting story with heavy material between Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas, which brings enjoyable moments to a screeching halt. Every time some kind of silly momentum was being built, De Niro would suddenly go sour on Douglas, storming out of the room or causing some ruckus. The hatred seems unbalanced though as certain moments don’t suggest a hint of negative feelings between Paddy and Billy, but then at the drop of a pin the situation goes South. The forced dramatics grow tiresome very quickly, as a grumpy old man just refuses to let go of a long-time grudge. Last Vegas could have benefited from simply focusing on four Grandpas tearing up the “City of Sin” – keep it simple!
Our cast is just waiting to break out, with the most memorable moments being delivered by Freeman and Kline, but De Niro and Douglas are restrained by their argumentative character arcs. Kline especially shows that he hasn’t lost a second of his brilliant comedic timing, proudly exclaiming to everyone he meets his wife granted him a “hall pass” of sorts for the weekend – even to the cross-dressing showgirls he mistakenly meets in the bar. There’s also some wonderful dialogue that we pick up on, suggesting Kline is inquiring about Madonna’s (Roget Bart) sex change, but instead we find out it’s just football banter. See, there are moments of clever comedy here, but not enough heartfelt emotion for the supplemental love story. Last Vegas is romantic in a completely Hollywood way, like if you proposed at a funeral or something ridiculous like that…
But maybe I’m just the twentysomething whippersnapper who doesn’t want to think about a future filled with medications and replacement limbs, and maybe the whole “getting married in your sixties” story arc will be more poignant for the early bird crowd. I still laughed, I still enjoyed seeing these acting greats share a very impressive screen, and seeing Jerry Ferrara get bossed around by these mobster imposters absolutely made my night – but I couldn’t help shake the foursome gimmick.
Last Vegas is a movie experience that leaves so much to be desired, which happens all too often when such a prolific cast gets together. Freeman busts out of his suburban jail, Kline escapes his boring Florida lifestyle, De Niro attempts to put his deceased wife behind him, and Douglas finally ditches bachelorhood – but none of them ever evolve into the character we hope. Well, I take that back, because Morgan Freeman is so damn lovable, cutting a rug with some very questionable celebrity look-a-likes, but the experience itself feels hollow. You’re simply purchasing a ticket for the names attached with this one – not the cinematic journey they embark on.