Last Vegas is about as safe as a movie about Las Vegas can get. What else would one expect from the writer of The Guilt Trip and the director of Phenomenon. Obviously angling for a post-Hangover slice of the pie the film takes four legendary actors and puts them right in the middle of a city and situation built for easy laughs. And easy laughs is what it’s content to mine.
Four best friends from Flatbush have enjoyed fifty plus years of a bond that has carried them into their latter years and all have sustained ego-crushing blows as Father Time has worked his necromancy. In film language all have one issue that permeates them through the story and as is too often the case in comedies too formulaic in structure they all confront and defeat those issues. Morgan Freeman has become a part of his son’s glass menagerie after a stroke and is kept from truly living his life. Kevin Kline has lost his sex drive. Michael Douglas is averting old age by deciding to settle down with a much younger woman. Robert De Niro has lost his wife and lives in a shell of perpetual sadness. When the idea of a bachelor party for Douglas’s Billy is floated all four convene for a gigantic hodgepodge of situations that showcase how time has passed them by and how four grown men find themselves again.
Mary Steenburgen enlivens the proceedings as a lounge singer who awakens the loins and speaks deep truths. She adds to a group of talent that does a lot of work to keep the affair from being simply too easy and familiar. It’s hard not to fall in love with seeing four of the greatest American actors working together for the first time and Freeman and Kline in particular really seem to be enjoying the moment. De Niro and Douglas spend a lot of time sparring and moving the plot along but even they have moments to shine. It is very much a punctuation mark on a lot of great roles and nominations. It also marks the first and surely only time any of these will share a marquee with Jerry Ferrara.
When it works it’s amusing. Never threatening. Never surprising. Amusing. Some of the jokes hit and other fall flat, at least for discerning viewers. It’s a great date movie for casual film fans. There’s nothing new here but it’s hard to hate a movie able to bring such great talent together as a goof.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars