The geezers-gone-wild comedy Last Vegas, starring Robert De Niro (70), Michael Douglas (69), Morgan Freeman (76) and Kevin Kline (66), plays like a blend of The Hangover and Grumpy Old Men. You could add The Bucket List, too, since this film gave these Oscar-winning veterans their first-ever opportunity to work together on screen.
Directed by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) and written by Dan Fogelman (The Guilt Trip, Crazy, Stupid Love), the movie is a preholiday trifle that’s mildly risqué and a lot sentimental.
The stars play childhood friends who dubbed themselves “The Flatbush Four,” and they reunite in their senior years for a Vegas bachelor party.
The host is Malibu playboy lawyer Billy (Douglas), who has impulsively proposed to his 31-year-old girlfriend while delivering a friend’s eulogy.
The gang includes Archie (Freeman) in New Jersey, who has suffered a mild stroke and has been chafing ever since under the cautious watch of his son (Michael Ealy). In Florida, Sam (Kline) is fading away in a purgatorial retirement community; as he’s leaving for Vegas, his wife (Joanna Gleason) hands him an envelope with a Viagra pill and a condom in the hope a fling will revive their sex lives.
Lastly, there’s the surly Paddy (De Niro), who lives alone in his New York apartment and is the hardest to persuade to take the trip: He still bears a grudge against Billy, who missed Paddy’s wife’s funeral a year before.
Shortly after they arrive in Las Vegas, Archie wins big at black jack and, hoping to win some of its money back, the casino comps them a gymnasium-sized penthouse suite. Early on, they meet the warmly engaging Diana (Mary Steenburgen in the best performance here, except for her distracting Cleopatra wig).
A former Atlanta lawyer trying to make a fresh start as lounge singer, Diana is amused by the four aging adolescents.
She takes them under her wing and soon rekindles an old rivalry between Paddy and Billy.
There’s a big party, naturally, with babes, booze and misbehaviour, and it results in the expected reversals of the men’s defeatist perspectives: Sam shows his moves on the dance floor; Paddy channels his rage by decking a young punk, Sam expands his erotic horizons; and Billy rediscovers true romance.
The cast members are all capable and game, but there are only so many times you can watch old, crepe-necked dudes dreamily ogling young females before you start to feel queasy. Clearly, what happens in Vegas really needs to stay there.