Last Vegas: Some Aces to be Had—Movie

Just judging from the title, one might think that “Last Vegas” is “The Hangover” for seniors. One would be wrong. Yes, it’s a gathering of friends for a Las Vegas bachelor party, but that is where the similarity ends. Directed by Jon Turteltaub and written by Dan Fogelman, “Last Vegas is a gentle, comedic look at friendship.Last Vegas

The movie begins with a fun look at the group of friends in 1955 Brooklyn, where they dubbed themselves the Flatbush Four, and then jumps to present day. Although once close, the four have gone their separate ways, keeping in touch by phone. Living in complete boredom is Sam (Kevin Kline), who has retired to Florida with his wife (Joanna Gleason). Morgan Freeman’s Archie lives in New Jersey under the watchful eye of his over-protective son (Michael Ealy). There’s reason for some concern, since Archie has had severe medical problems; but he’s feeling like a prisoner in his own home, with the life being slowly sucked out of him. Robert De Niro’s Paddy is a recent widower who is still grieving over the death of his wife and spends much of his day in his bathrobe. The fourth member of the group is Billy (Michael Douglas).  Never married, he’s living a successful life in Southern California. Now in his late 60s, he’s decided to get married to a 30-something woman, and it’s his engagement that is the reason for the Las Vegas gathering.

With the exception of Billy, today’s Las Vegas is a revelation to the group. While checking out one of the older hotels, where they initially feel more comfortable, the four meet lounge singer, Diana (Mary Steenburgen). Both Billy and Paddy are immediately taken with her. How will that play out? We learn that the two were once in love with the same woman, who ended up marrying Paddy. Paddy is still upset with Billy for not coming to her funeral, and the serious aspect of the film is spent working out those feelings.

Much has been made of the fact that all of the male leads and Steenburgen are Academy Award winners. But if the writing isn’t on the page, even the best actor can’t do much. However, the writing is solid. By no means is “Last Vegas” the next coming of Shakespeare. But the script doesn’t disrespect the characters and never condescends to them or their age.  The characters are the first to make fun of themselves. There is a dance scene with Morgan Freeman which could have gone horribly wrong and doesn’t, thanks to that respect. One running gag involves Kevin Kline’s Sam. His marriage, much like his life, has gotten a little stale. Hoping to add some zip and spice to it, his wife very lovingly gives him permission to cheat; arming him with a condom and Viagra before he leaves for Las Vegas. Watching Sam trying to make the most of this freedom never gets old.

All of the actors are terrific. Despite their pedigrees, none are phoning it in. Although they have never before worked together, which is surprising in and of itself, they do seem like old friends and Steenburgen fits in quite nicely with the group. Also adding elements of fun are Jerry Ferrara, Romany Malco and Roger Bart as a wise-guy hotel guest, hotel concierge-man and Vegas cross-dressing performer respectively.

If you’re just looking for an enjoyable movie that won’t hurt your head plot or sound-wise, “Last Vegas” should be on your itinerary.

2 ¾ nuggets out of 4

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2 Responses to “Last Vegas: Some Aces to be Had—Movie”

  1. CMrok93 Says:

    Nice review Joan. The material is weak, no doubt about that should be made. However, I will say that these legends of the big-screen make it work for every second they have together.

    Like

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