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Last Vegas

November 1, 2013
Last Vegas

As the Baby Boomers continue to join the ranks of the AARP, we see more and more movies dropping aging stars into situations that usually feature younger characters. These can often be dreadfully creaky and corny affairs, but Last Vegas avoids the worst of the possible pitfalls. Positioned as a milder Hangover for the Geritol set, it boasts four familiar, Oscar-winning faces a script by Dan Fogelman, and Jon Turteltaub in the director’s chair. It promises widely-accessible, uncomplicated entertainment that won’t upset any but the most delicate constitutions, and it pretty much delivers on that.

We start with four best friends who grew up in Brooklyn in the ’40s and
’50s, and then jump forward until they’re all in their 60s and 70s. Billy (Michael Douglas) is now a west coast big-shot who’s finally getting married to a woman half his ave. Sam (Kevin Kline) and Archie (Morgan Freeman) decide that he needs a bachelor weekend in Las Vegas, since he’d thrown bachelor parties for the rest of the gang when they’d all gotten married — twice for Archie. Besides, Sam is miserable in his Florida retirement community, and Archie is miserable in New Jersey under the watchful eye of a son (Michael Ealy) who will barely let him breathe unsupervised after a minor stroke. So they roust out Paddy (Robert De Niro), still mired in grief over the loss of his wife a year before, and head out to meet Billy in Sin City.

Three pensioners and a mogul in Vegas doesn’t sound all that entertaining, but they’re helped by some convenient luck, mostly in the form of some big casino wins leading to a hefty bankroll, a comped penthouse suite, and a dedicated valet (Romany Malco). This frees the foursome up to pursue their personal storylines: Archie wants to enjoy his time out from under his son’s watchful eye; Sam’s wife has given him a weekend “What-Happens-In-Vegas-Stays-In-Vegas” pass; Billy and Paddy meet an accountant-turned-lounge singer (Mary Steenburgen) and start to re-enact their old rivalry over the young woman who became Paddy’s wife. And of course there are all the running-wild-in-Vegas hijinks: judging a bikini contest MCed by Redfoo; VIP service at a trendy nightclub; convincing a popped-collar douchebag (Jerry Ferrara) that you’re Mafia bosses and demanding his services as a lackey.

There’s nothing truly boundary-pushing here, but there’s also nothing truly offensive. And with so many arcs going on, there’s going to be something here to please almost anyone. I, personally, enjoyed Archie’s playful antics, while I winced through Sam’s constant, overeager efforts to get laid, and Billy and Paddy’s jousting felt thin and predictable. But I know other people who thought Sam was the highlight of the movie, and I’m sure there are others who love the Douglas-De Niro pairing.

It’s rare to see a movie that tries to be all things to all people and doesn’t fail miserably. Last Vegas isn’t particularly great at anything, but it manages to be pretty good at enough things to keep a wide audience pleasantly entertained.

Worth It: yeah.
Bechdel Test: fail.

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