Director: Jon Turteltaub.
Starring: Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen.
Running Time: 105 minutes.
Synopsis: Three sixty-something friends take a break from their day-to-day lives to throw a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their last remaining single pal.
Out among the world of unexpected ensembles in film, you wouldn’t usually put these four movie stars together into what’s sold as THE HANGOVER for the older generation. However, LAST VEGAS is directed by Jon Turteltaub, the man once behind COOL RUNNINGS and WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING, and holds much more than the cheap laughs of that destructive franchise with a strong connection to long-term friendships and a focus on the sacrifices we all make for others.
We start fifty-eight years ago with a set-up quicker than old father time as we’re introduced to the ‘Flatbush Four’ who are Billy (Michael Douglas), Sam (Kevin Kline), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Paddy (Robert De Niro), represented by a quartet of kids who give us an uncanny representation of the film legends. It’s clear to see that they’re an unbreakable bunch, like another version of STAND BY ME, but without the dead body, and once we’ve all instantly recognised who will become who, we jump to the present day.
The gang come back together, through various persuasions and amusing methods, because Billy (Douglas) is marrying a girl half his age and it’s a final chance for them together for one final fling of freedom, so where better than Vegas. Once they arrive, there are the standard misunderstanding-technology-jokes but they don’t feel clichéd, there’s Freeman’s character checking out Red Bull & Vodka, plus a stunningly entertaining bikini-competition where De Niro gets a crotch in his face, which has to be seen to be fully appreciated.
LAST VEGAS has a good measure of warm-heartedness and it achieves this by having relatable characters that work alongside a simple but intelligent plot that unravels without turning to dust. This is mainly thanks to screenwriter Dan Fogelman, the man behind the underrated CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE and I feel this element of the film is probably a little undersold on this occasion.
We’ve also got Michael Douglas and Robert De Niro on marvellous form, both comically and emotionally, and when you’ve got the additional talents of Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline as the back-up (also with their own life changes and intentions), it winds up being a story that may be for an older market but recounts your own life and friends gone by. LAST VEGAS is a clever reflection of time passing by and highlighting that through life you’ll fight, you’ll learn but most of you will laugh and here it’s embodied in plentiful measures. It all goes to prove that you can teach old dogs some refreshing new tricks.