“Last Vegas” Movie Review

     With “Last Vegas”, four iconic actors take their turn in a Las Vegas party movie and deservedly so.  Each has provided so many great moments over their careers and what could be better to celebrate their contributions than a full on party done Vegas style.  Director John Turteltaub (“National Treasure”, “While You Were Sleeping”) knows this and pours on the Vegas cliches, along with a sentimental story line in what is an entertaining film from start to finish.  There’s nothing that sets the story apart from other “bucket list” type films, but seeing Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline simply get together and have fun is worth the price of admission.  It’s as if you can easily picture these four actors doing this for real, without the need of a screenplay and that’s really how the film comes across.  Each has a built in likability factor which allows each scene to have incredible weight, even if the script lacks substance.

     The film opens with a short prologue that shows Billy, Paddy, Archie, and Sam in their early teens and in an apparent scuffle over a girl.  When the film fast forwards to “58 years later”, each is at a point where if the other phones, the automatic assumption is some kind of new health problem has cropped up.  At least this time that’s not the case as Billy (Michael Douglas) announces he is marrying for the first time and to a woman half his age.  The wedding is to take place in Las Vegas, something Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline) instantly become excited about as both have fallen into a rut for various reasons and feel like they really need a weekend like this.  The only road block to getting these life long friends together one more time is Paddy (Robert De Niro).  After losing his wife a year earlier, Paddy spends most of his time in a bath robe and glued to an easy chair while surrounded by framed photographs from his past.  In addition, Billy and Paddy also had a falling out and aren’t speaking.

     Eventually convincing Paddy to attend, the group meets in Las Vegas, where Dan Fogelman’s script immediately immerses our characters into some very typical Vegas situations.  They play black jack, they hang out at the pool, they get bottle service at nightclubs, and they even go to the Stratosphere for the thrill rides!  The filmmakers, of course, make numerous continuity errors that always seem to make Vegas residents cringe.  In a scene they are supposed to be walking toward’s the Aria Hotel, they are shown walking in the wrong direction in front of the Mirage, for example.  Eventually they make it to their destination and through some luck are given the keys to the Aria’s best luxury suite, which their host tells them is normally reserved for the likes of “50 Cent”, a celebrity reference that falls on deaf ears to these older guys.

     A chance meeting with the singer in a lounge act produces the love interest two of the characters spar over.  As Diana, Mary Steenburgen more than holds her own along side this famous cast and may even outdo them in certain areas as she has an incredible allure that makes her character highly believable within the circumstances of the film’s third act.  Each of the men is challenged in a variety of ways, whether it’s Sam and the permission his wife at home has given him to have a fling or Archie’s attempts to cover up his true location and escape the clutches of his overbearing son.  Ultimately,  it’s Billy and Paddy who are front and center as they battle over the past and present.  For a time, you almost forget the reason these guys made the trip was to watch Billy get married, but the conclusion while clever from the characters point of view nonetheless remains predictable to the audience.

     The finale is centered around Billy’s bachelor party which takes place in their massive Aria Hotel suite.  The party comes complete with all the people one might expect at your average Vegas bash (not really) including cross dressers, Cirque Du Soleil performers, strippers, hookers,  and mob types.  All in the name of sending Billy into his first marriage in style.  Of course those of us who live in Vegas know this is unrealistic overkill on the part of the filmmakers and certainly not the norm, but who knows, if these guys really did throw a party in Vegas, maybe this would be accurate.  The glaring theme throughout the film is the character’s fear of getting old, so how better than to return to the years of past glory than to do it right in Vegas?  GRADE: B-