Director Jon Turteltaub, who is best known for helming the box office action smash hits of ‘National Treasure’ films and more recently ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’, has made a funny and heartfelt independent film. He has assembled a dream cast of highly acclaimed actors — Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline and Mary Steenburgen — bringing them together in the same movie for the first time. Between them, they have amassed an Oscars tally of seven Academy Award trophies.
‘Last Vegas’ has a familiar premise. Four life-long best friends Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (De Niro), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline) decided to head to Las Vegas for a final bachelor party bash as Billy, the only remaining bachelor of the group, is getting married to his girlfriend half his age.
'Last Vegas' is a bachelor party for seniors played by Kevin Kline, Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas and Morgan Freeman
Along the way, they met a beautiful and seductive songstress Diana (Steenburgen) who rekindles romantic sparks in widower Paddy. Meanwhile there are unresolved issues between Billy and Paddy, Archie and his over-caring son, and Sam who wants to sow his wild oats after getting the nod from his wife to sleep with another woman in the city of sin.
As the weekend progresses, their friendships are tested in ways they never imagined, as the four buddies embark on one misadventure after another.
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There is great chemistry between the leading actors, whose ages range between 66 and 76; the wit and banter never stops, delivering plenty of laughs.
Everything happens naturally at a leisurely pace without any big theatrics or crazy antics. Even though the situations are not as outrageous or offensive as in ‘The Hangover’ comedies, ‘Last Vegas’ works mainly because we truly care for the characters and their stories.
Writer Dan Fogelman, whose previous credits include ‘Crazy Stupid Love’ and ‘The Guilt Trip’, weaves in more than a few in-jokes and references, such as De Niro’s Paddy punching out a young punk who taunts his friends, relishing the moment afterwards with a few boxing moves, a fitting tribute to his Oscar-winning role as Jake LaMotta in ‘Raging Bull’.
One of the weaker links in the script is the character of Diana, whom, despite Steenburgen’s memorable and sultry performance on stage singing old jazz tunes, conveniently becomes a love interest plot device for Paddy and Billy, without as much of a hint of her motivations or her back story.
The talents of Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline are also somewhat under used. Both great actors are mostly reduced to playing the supporting sidekicks for comic effect, their respective backstories and conflicts getting resolved easily without much distraction to the main plot.
This is ultimately De Niro and Michael Douglas’ movie. Both actors do the heavy lifting, move the plot along, and it is their conflict that becomes the centerpiece of the film.
As we come to the end of the weekend trip with these boys, whatever age group you might belong to, you will feel a sense of renewed hope in believing in the good old values of friendship, loyalty and sacrifice, while having fun watching this comedy.
A minor box office hit in its North American release with close to US$60 million in box office receipts, it is already drawing prospects of a sequel, and rumor has it that Jon Turteltaub would like to get Tom Hanks on board. Whoever may join the case, this definitely won’t be the last Vegas movie we are seeing.