“Criticize the cliches and the predictability of the film all you want, but the actors can not be faulted.”

The Wrap’s film critic Alonso Duralde, dubbed Last Vegas “Grumpy Old Hangover,” in reference to the two comedies from years back starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. The only reason I utilize the nickname is because it’s the most accurate summation of the film I’ve found thus far. The film stars four veteran actors gliding through the ins and outs of a predictable but delightfully relatable and amusing screenplay that proves them to be good sports and committed screen presences.

The film involves Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (Robert De Niro), Sam (Kevin Kline), and Archie (Morgan Freeman), four lifelong friends who have unfortunately gone their humble, separate ways thanks to old age, health issues, and lack of motivation. However, when Billy, who is already nearing seventy, announces he is engaged to a thirty-year-old beauty, the four must reunite to attend a last-minute bachelor party in Vegas for the weekend. The group, however, has complications, not just because they’re old, but because of contention between Billy and Paddy, and how Paddy’s wife’s funeral never saw the presence of Billy. This reuniting of four old friends in one of the rowdiest cities in the world will test their friendship and ultimately their futures.

Last Vegas
Directed by
Jon Turteltaub
Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline
Release Date
1 November 2013
Steve’s Grade: B

Criticize the cliches and the predictability of the film all you want, but the actors can not be faulted. De Niro, Douglas, Freeman, Kline, and Mary Steenburgen (playing a gorgeous lounge singer), who will undoubtedly be shortchanged in the face of the four aforementioned legends, don’t do the expected in terms of shortchanging or strolling through the film with a collect-the-check mentality.

It’s safe to say the most criticized of the actors has been De Niro, rightfully so in his lack of ambitious performances and promising films in the last decade and a half of his career. However, many people are too quick to say the man has turned into a bad actor when they likely mean to say he has turned into an actor known for starring in bad films. Last Vegas may be a far cry from the films that made him a known name, but it’s safe to say that his character is required to have more emotional depth and significance when compared to the characters in his past films.

Such is the same for most of the main cast, as well. These men are at least gifted with the inclusion of characterization on writer Dan Fogelman’s behalf. This and the emotional depth in terms of Paddy and Billy’s rocky friendship over the years keep the film buoyant and stable, even as it begins to reach a certain level in redundancy in its latter act.

The film will be appreciated the most by, stereotypically-speaking, the Medicare, AARP crowd in the audience. In retrospect, they’re the ones who deserve a film like this. The film itself is aware of age and its downsides, but it’s also aware that the celebration of life and age’s benefits shouldn’t be frowned upon or regarded poorly. A film with a similar ideology – also released this year – was The Internship, about two men in their thirties applying for a much-desired internship at the web company Google. I called the film a smart movie disguised as a stupid one, as it offered serious insights as being old in a technology-driven Western society that looks onto older people as ignorant and outdated.

Both films share the ideology of using age as an advantage and embracing what some may see as limitations. The beauty of both films is they can either been seen as fun comedies or parables on age. The choice on how to view them is, obviously, yours.

Review by Steve Pulaski, Lead Film Critic

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