Directed by Jon Turteltaub
Six decades worth of friendship is not something many people can say they share with others. What’s even rarer is when the best moments of that friendship are revived during a party-filled weekend in Las Vegas when all the friends are far past their prime.
While it is not the first movie of it’s kind, “Last Vegas,” essentially an elderly man’s version of “The Hangover,” supplies a funny take on retired life. Boasting an all-star cast, the film is a refreshing spin on a comedy formula that has been overdone in the past few years.
The movie stars Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kline as a group of four guys in their 60s who have been friends since their childhood days. After six decades of friendship, the group has moved apart but attempts to rekindle their connection in honor of Billy’s (Douglas) wedding. Together with veteran director Jon Turteltaub and an effectively humorous screenplay from Dan Fogelman, these four actors work seamlessly to create an effective comedy and a feel-good movie.
The film follows the group of retirees whose lives have significantly worsened within the past few years. Archie (Freeman) lives with his son, Paddy (De Niro) just lost his wife and Sam (Kline) is getting tired of retired life in Florida. Billy, the fourth of the group, is incredibly successful yet has never been married, until he decides on a whim to marry his girlfriend who is half his age. This results in the four reuniting in Las Vegas for one weekend to throw him a bachelor party before Billy ties the knot. For Sam and Archie, this is a great escape from an otherwise boring life, but it quickly becomes apparent that the relationship between Billy and Paddy has soured since the death of Paddy’s wife, and it’s all up to this weekend to make things right.
Turteltaub, best known for the “National Treasure” movies, returns to the director’s chair for the first time in three years. He does a fine job of balancing the actors’ strengths to make every scene have funny moments while striking a chord with the audience when tough topics, such as death, are discussed among the group members. Freeman gives an especially great performance, standing out in a role where he spends most of his time dancing around and gambling.
The film will no doubt draw comparisons to “The Hangover” trilogy for many viewers because of its location. While this picture is not nearly as raunchy as the Todd Phillips series, it still has its share of crude humor. The expected jokes regarding old men and the usual conditions that come with old age are a constant, but the presence of such strong screen talent makes these cheesy moments of dialogue more bearable.
The luxurious Aria Hotel serves as the group’s home for the weekend, and while they are staying in one of the most expensive suites Las Vegas has to offer, the film still has an air of realism. Several classic locations in Vegas are also featured, including The Neon Museum, Binion’s and The Freemont Street Experience. The use of these classic locations help sell the experience of Vegas as nothing but authentic.
While not the first film set in Sin City, “Last Vegas” mixes its jokes and great cast quite well, creating a movie for all ages and one that is poised for success.