Jon Turteltaub’s Last Vegas has brought together four of the most renowned actors of a generation, those who are celebrated and revered for inspiring millions upon millions of people with their unique talent and distinctive ability. So, you’d think it would take quite a disastrous film to strip them all of their credibility and dignity, right? Well Last Vegas has managed just that. A geriatric ‘Hangover’ is evidently the joke. Problem is, that doesn’t necessarily make it a funny one.
When Billy (Michael Douglas) proposes to his much younger girlfriend at a funeral, he decides that the only way to carry on with this inane fiasco is to go Las Vegas and have a weekend long bachelor party with his three oldest friends. Managing to recruit both Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline) with little persuasion, it will take a while longer to convince the widowed Paddy (Robert De Niro) to join them. Having fallen out previously, Billy knows that the pair don’t quite see eye to eye, but they hope that a reinvigorating weekend in Vegas will fix their seemingly tenuous disagreements. However when they both fall for cabaret singer Diana (Mary Steenburgen), it seems old habits die hard.
Though there is the occasional gag that will provoke a somewhat disinclined chuckle, on the whole Last Vegas bears many jokes that are so elementary and obvious. The whole concept of older people not quite understanding modern life and technology is one that’s severely tired and banal. The film is just so predictable, and you can guess the punchline moments before it occurs. The ever so conspicuous character developments are easy to judge too, and if you really wanted to, you could write the final scene for this picture as the very first begins. To be frank, it’s actually quite depressing to watch. These actors have been in some stunning movies, and to see them in such a generic, lacklustre comedy is disconcerting to say the least.
Their characters aren’t particularly likeable either, apart from Archie – but then again Freeman could be endearing playing a fascist dictator. Kline also seems up for the occasion – which is more that can be said of the other two, but regrettably his character is so crass and ungracious. Epitomised in the scene when they all somehow end up judging a bikini contest, these men are merely lewd and lamentably libidinous. They shouldn’t be celebrated for their seedy ways, they should be locked up. This vacuous scene is horribly symbolic of a film that is just ill-judged and without any interesting female characters, despite Steenburgen’s best efforts.
It’s unwittingly mawkish at times too, and there’s one close up of Douglas, peering out pensively into the distance, and in that time you could try and name every single film he’s ever made. On a more positive note, screenwriter Dan Fogelman must be commended for not adhering to simplistic escapades as a source of comedy, as our protagonists don’t find themselves in any genuinely taut situations, as we opt for a more emotionally motivated piece, with nostalgia and lost friendships both key themes. However, this decision to be more character driven isn’t backed up with any sincerity, as their respective journeys are difficult to invest in and care for.
This may be described as a crowd pleaser by some, but with the credentials of the cast you can’t be blamed for expecting something a little more than simple, good fun. If this actually is the last time we go to Vegas in cinema, then so be it, as a region that’s become something of a parody of itself, and this abides by all of the conventionalities and stereotypes surrounding the location. You almost get the impression Fogelman thought up the pun for the title first, and then sought in forcefully writing a film around it. If there is to be a sequel, (please, no) let’s just hope these characters check in at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and be done with it.