It always felt like an ill-advised movie title – almost as if it was tempting fate. Now, in perhaps the clearest demonstration of what not to call your film project, 2013’s Last Vegas is getting a sequel – making that first film much less ‘Last’ and rather more ‘Penultimate’.
The comedy turned into something of a sleeper hit when it was released last year, which was surprising – not because of the quality of the movie, but because of the demographic it hooked into. There is a particular kind of movie that utilizes actors of a certain age and stature, and they come along in waves. They are, in effect, a celebration of legendary-ness, providing the audience with a chance to see familiar and beloved faces glide across the screen with effortless swagger, and perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek.
We’ve seen it in the The Expendables franchise, and we’ve seen it in RED and RED 2. Last Vegas fit neatly into this category with its main cast of Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline. The difference is, the main cast are all Academy Award winners, and the film is relatively gentle.
With no massive explosions, no big special effects, not one single cast member hanging from a hotel balcony, and absolutely no Bruce Willis, Last Vegas turned a healthy profit, and stayed in theatres longer than anyone expected. So, of course, Hollywood wants to do it all again. The first film had four friends heading to Las Vegas ahead of the wedding of one of their number – while dredging up past rivalries and conflicts. Now, with Laurence Mark and Amy Baer returning to produce, it seems their intention is to reunite the director of the first film – Jon Turtletaub (National Treasure) – with his heavy-weight cast, and have them return to their roots in Brooklyn, only to find fundamental changes have taken place.
The premise hints at a ‘fish out of water,’ ‘generational clash’ kind of angle, that would give each of these seasoned performers room to flex their renowned onscreen presence – something that will undoubtedly set box office cash registers ringing once more.
With CBS Films stating categorically that they are moving ahead “aggressively” with this Last Vegas follow-up, we can expect to hear more official announcements in the coming months. The real question is, what will they call it this time?