The trailers for ‘Last Vegas’, a comedy starring several actors over the age of 60 in a plot very similar to ‘The Hangover’, gave me serious doubts about how good it could actually be. On the one hand, I foresaw this film playing out for a crowd over 50 with cute humor that my mother and grandmother could laugh at, but not much else. On the other hand, this could have simply failed on every level, with poor dialogue, bad characters and no real story – just an excuse to get some veteran actors together to make a quick buck. Well, I couldn’t be more wrong. This ensemble featuring Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline and Mary Steenburgen is smart, witty, heartfelt and hilarious.
The film starts with a prologue in which four boys about 11-years-old hang out in New York. You can instantly see how close and loyal these friends have become at such an early age. We then jump forward over 50 years. Sam (Kline) is not really enjoying his early retirement in Florida with his wife; Archie (Freeman) lives with his over-protective son and family after suffering a mild stroke; and Paddy (De Niro) is still emotionally unstable due to his wife’s recent death and barely leaves his Brooklyn apartment. Then there’s Billy (Douglas), a very successful lawyer who has more money than he knows what to do with. The only thing is, Billy has never fallen in love. That is, until now, when he calls his friends to tell them that he’s getting married in a few days to a girl who seems to have just graduated high school. His friends decide to throw him a bachelor party in Vegas, but must first convince Paddy to come along, as Paddy and Billy’s friendship hit a big speed bump a year or so prior.
The script by Dan Fogelman delivers some great jokes about getting older that somehow seem fresh this time around. The movie also has a strong layer of comedy and drama. As our characters spend their weekend in Sin City, they stumble upon a lounge singer named Diana (Steenburgen) in a dive casino. Billy and Paddy become infatuated with her almost immediately. Meanwhile, Sam tries to get laid, by request from his wife, in order to recharge their sex life back home, but ends up talking to drag queens. As soon as Archie enters a casino, he quickly pulls out $15k in cash and begins betting. When he wins big, the four guys acquire the top penthouse in Vegas, access to the hottest nightclubs, and even host one of the best parties in town in their luxurious suite.
What works so well is the cast’s chemistry. The characters have deep layers and prove that, even after 50+ years, they still have love for one another and will be loyal and protect each other. The movie has some truly heartwarming scenes, as well as a lot of gut-busting laugh-out-loud moments.
‘Last Vegas’ was much better than I expected and packs enough heart and laughs for two movies.