Directed by: Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure)
Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen
I feared the worst going into Jon Turteltaub’s Last Vegas, a film being marketed as the AARP’s answer to The Hangover. I knew that the horror of 90 minutes of boner-pill jokes and Michael Douglas’ beef-jerky visage awaited me. But surprisingly, Last Vegas is not that terrible. I mean, there are boner-pill jokes, and Douglas could star in another Texas Chainsaw Massacre if someone were so forward-thinking, but the experience was mostly painless and generally pleasant, albeit wholly corny and often outright unfunny.
The watchability of the film is mostly due to its cast, mainly Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline. None of these men are spectacular by any means, but they’re all personable and were given roles that let their personalities come through. It is no coincidence that Freeman and Kline, the two most innately likable actors, fare the best. Together, the four play lifelong friends each dealing with the difficulty of aging. There’s Archie (Freeman), who’s just suffered a minor stroke; Sam (Kline), who’s wasting away in Florida with a titanium hip and a metal knee; and Paddy (De Niro), who spends his time cooped up in his apartment, mourning the loss of his wife. They’re all brought back together for Billy’s (Douglas) bachelor party — the clique’s playboy is finally settling down with a woman less than half his age.
This plays just like any teen, sex-and-booze-party romp you’ve ever seen, but with the added twist of featuring elderly men and without the gumption for an R-rating. There’s lots of ogling and talk about sex, but nothing ever really happens. The jokes are what you’d expect, with lots of gags revolving around prescription pharmaceuticals and sagging body parts (no adult diaper jokes, though, so bravo, everyone). However, there are attempts at dramatic weight, as our heroes learn to come terms with their old age and wade through the decades of emotional baggage their friendships have wrought. None of this supposed heaviness works as well as director Turteltaub thinks it should, since he punctuates any dramatic scene with a schmaltzy score full of swelling strings and oboes. Turteltaub wants the audience to care about these characters, when really it’s just the actors getting what they can out of the role. That they kept Last Vegas from being a total loss is an impressive feat in itself. Rated PG-13 on appeal for sexual content and language.
Playing at Carmike 10