REVIEW: Last Vegas (John Turtletaub – 2013)

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Four old friends behaving badly in Vegas for a bachelor party; ladies and gentlemen Last Vegas is The HangOLDER. Billy (Michael Douglas), Patty (Robert De Niro), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline) have been friends for sixty years. When Billy’s mentor passes away and the end of life feels dangerously close he suddenly proposes to his 32 year old trophy girlfriend, intent on a shotgun Vegas wedding; prompting his three best friends to insist upon a suitably Vegas Bachelor party.

Last Vegas is half good.  And it really comes down to two things; Freeman and Kline. They’re different than the two central best friends; aloof from the petty arguments that have been occurring since they were children. Freeman’s Archie, after recently suffering a stroke, is wrapped in cotton wool by his concerned son. Watching him escape to get on this journey, or his first encounter with Vodka and Red Bull was nothing short of sublime. There’s a grace and cool to Freeman that he’s able to maintain despite not wanting to be confined to what he ‘should’ be doing at his age. Add a dash of Earth Wind and Fire’s ‘September’ and you’ll see the double Oscar winner carving up the dance floor. Kline’s Sam is a sarcastic sod, in old age denial that gets to bear witness to the perversions of what Spike Milligan would call ‘above ground cemetery’ living. He’s desperate to get to Vegas with the boys to jolt him out of negativity. Kline has no qualms about being the butt of the joke; taking off his glasses to look younger and stumbling into a group of trans-gender drag queens in a bar, getting offered a ‘what happens in Vegas’ free pass from his wife    reveals a desperate side.

On the other side of poker chip are our two leads Douglas and De Niro. The central relationship of Billy and Patty feels terribly contrived as best friends who fell out as a result of a love triangle in their youth. Mary Steenburgen’s Diana becomes the object of their advances, even as Billy’s impending wedding creeps closer. Douglas playing a vapid, fake tanned guy feels all too easy. If you’re looking at his staggeringly great portrayal of Liberace in Behind the Candelabra prior to this film you’re going to yearn for sequins. De Niro is one of the world’s greatest living actors, and this is one of his most forgettable generic performances. Director John Turtletaub has De Niro in this film simply to have LMFAO’s Red Foo take off his pants and pelvic thrust in his face. As that particular scene unfolded you’re expecting (and hoping) that the Raging Bull is going to beat him to death. Patty is cantankerous, depressed and holding a grudge on Billy that constantly reminds you that the fun of the story is orbiting this supernova of inconsequence. The performances from both men feel noncommittal and insincere, like Dan Fogelman’s scripting.

Last Vegas is double AND nothing. It wins big with Freeman’s cool and Kline’s surgeon-like timing and flails miserably with everything associated with relationship between Douglas and DeNiro. 

and a half

Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to the audio review on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.

Directed by: Jon Turteltaub  

Written by: Dan Fogelman

Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman , Kevin Kline , Mary Steenburgen, Romany Malco