Fri November 1, 2013
Enjoyable, philosophical, unspectacular, but full of seasoned talent.
Director: Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure)
Screenplay: Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid Love)
Cast: Michael Douglas (Basic Instinct), Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver), Morgan Freeman (The Outlaw Josey Wales), Kevin Kline ( The Ice Storm)
Runtime: 105 min.
by John DeSando
“The love of our private friends is the only preparatory exercise for the love of all men.” John Henry Cardinal Newman
Last Vegas is promoted by some as a geriatric Hangover; it’s not quite. It’s rather a sometimes poignant if lighthearted comedy about friendship and love with a dash of philosophizing about growing old. Three sixty-something buddies have a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their equally aging buddy who is marrying a babe over half his age.
The usual bachelor party tropes are there: swimming pools, buxom girls, extravagant digs, gambling, drunken partying, and pappy love, among others. But lacing through this usually freewheeling, adolescent humored romp of a cliché are some thoughts about their 60 years of friendship and what it brings and demands.
Most importantly is the rivalry between Billy (Michael Douglas) and Paddy (Robert De Niro) over the girl who got away from Billy and married Paddy. How her death affects their friendship is touching if not overly sentimental but real as it continues to color their lives to this day. How it shapes the weekend and Billy’s marriage takes the film beyond Hangover and Bridesmaids.
Absent are scatological humor or retching; those staples of current buddy comedies are not in the least missed. Each other friend has his issue as well: Sam (Kevin Kline) his true love for his wife, who gives him Viagra and a condom for the trip; and Archie (Morgan Freeman) his over solicitous son. Director John Turteltaub and writer Dan Fogelman treat the hang-ups with gentleness, never extending to slapstick the important challenge of each life brought into relief by the trip.
Last Vegas is a diverting enjoyment, most of which is watching highly successful actors as if they’ve worked together forever, when in fact they never did. Movie magic and friendship themes make this a comfort film among too much glitz on other screens.
John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at WCBE.org. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com