Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman
Billy (Douglas), Paddy (De Niro), Archie (Freeman) and Sam (Kline) are four lifelong friends now in their late 60s and now Billy is finally getting married, albeit to a woman half his age that he proposed to at a funeral. Now, despite the expected limitations of their advanced years, the four of them head to Las Vegas for Billy’s bachelor party (stag night) to party like it is 1959. However, while there they realise not only how times have changed, but they learn new things about each other and themselves.
With the continuing increase in the percentage of cinema goers (in Britain at least) being over 60 an increasing quantity of films seems to be casting actors of similar age. That is not something to be sniffed at in my view, as some of these films are enjoyable (if slightly formulaic) and it means some great actors (and Bruce Willis) are still getting roles. So in that context, is Last Vegas a cynical formulaic film made solely with the intention of utilising the potential profit from an increasing cinema visiting demographic or a funny and heartfelt comedy? Well, I am afraid to say that as much as it tries to be the latter, it predominantly fails at that proving to be very much the former. The cast are certainly game, but the script has far more misses than it does hits in my view.
This is a real shame, as Last Vegas, though by far not the worst film of the yearcould and should have been an enjoyable film with light hearted laughter and heart, so is a real missed opportunity. The inevitable plethora of age gags is amusing at first but begin to grate after a while and just feel depressing and that there really is no creativity behind them. Though at a 12A rating Last Vegas can never be too lewd, but gags of the characters trying chat up younger women are embarrassing to watch, and very ill judged. All this means it is far more difficult to care when the inevitable attempts at heart and emotion contained within the very generic and predictable plot start to appear. Unfortunately these all feel forced, proving that screenwriter Dan Fogelman seems happy to tick off a check list and show no originality or creativity with his script. Likewise director-for-hire John Turteltaub seems to be asleep for the whole thing with direction and camerawork that feels extremely flat.
It is full credit to the cast that their natural chemistry with each other elevates the extremely lacklustre material. De Niro seems happy to just pick up his money, but Douglas, Freeman and Kline seem game and their natural enthusiasm makes the whole film just about watchable and raises the occasional chuckle. Though her character may simply act as a plot device, Mary Steenburgen also gives heart and substance to her role as a lounge singer, once again where the performance elevates the generic nature of the character. I am not sure if the talented cast were given room to improvise, but it feels that maybe more of that would have helped to make Last Vegas that bit more engaging and actually feel that it was made with some good intentions.
What worries me is that Last Vegas made money, and so not only is a sequel possible, but it means the movie machine will continue to churn out these cynically made, generic and formulaic films that involve no creative flair or originality. The cast exempted (apart from De Niro) who managed to slightly elevate the very poor material, all those that made Last Vegas should feel slightly ashamed of themselves and I implore anyone that is yet to see it, to avoid it.