The Bock’s Office: ‘Last Vegas’ is mostly a bust for prolific stars
November 14, 2013
Craig — Since its inception, Sin City has been a haven for people making bad decisions that, with any luck, won't impact their real lives. When you look at a movie like "Last Vegas" that way, it's easier to understand what its actors were thinking when getting involved with it, but it's still clear that no one was expecting a jackpot.
The Flatbush Four of Brooklyn are a group of lifelong friends that have seen each other less and less since their 1950s childhood, and most of them are really feeling their age. Of these once-inseparable chums, Billy (Michael Douglas) is the only one who hasn't quite grown up.
But with his bachelor days nearly at an end with a fiancee (Bre Blair) half his age, he's hoping for a final blowout with his fellas. Archie and Sam (Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline) are in for the weekend of fun in Las Vegas immediately, ready to get away from their humdrum lives, but the quartet isn't complete without Paddy (Robert De Niro), now a reclusive widower.
Even with the hassles involved, they all manage to meet up in the gambler's paradise to reconnect, though some of them are less enthusiastic about the reunion than others. Enter an attractive lounge singer (Mary Steenburgen), and some of the rivalry issues between Billy and Paddy start to resurface, threatening to ruin the whole weekend.
With some ridiculous-looking highlights in his hair and a knowing grin at all times, Douglas does it up as aging charmer Billy, living the high life in Malibu compared to his East Coast friends. His carefree existence seems great at first, but someone who still hasn't taken the marital plunge yet when he's nearly 70 obviously could use some socks for those cold feet.
De Niro has had the part of the grumpy, suspicious, old man down to a science ever since "Meet the Parents," so much so it's starting to get a little tiresome. Now, why couldn't he and Douglas have switched roles so we could see him as the perpetual adolescent?
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At least that would've been somewhat fresh.
Freeman makes the most of his uninspired character, sufferer of a mild stroke that's since left him in the overprotective care of a son (Michael Ealy) who thinks his dad is about to keel over at any minute. When you have to lie about peeing the bed to get your kid off your case, it's time to re-examine some boundaries.
As the youngest of these stars, Kline's beard, glasses, hearing aid and official elderly man cap make him look much older, though for all his griping about his titanium knee, Sam has the best storyline, having been sent off by his wife (Joanna Gleason) with instructions to snap out of his Florida retirement funk and get his mojo back by having an affair.
These guys may be a little past their midlife crisis stage, but judging from the endless jokes about age in Dan Fogelman's screenplay, you'd think the foursome were decrepit enough to be fit for coffins. The main actors, as well as most of the cast, need a better story in which to work their craft, and Fogelman's knack for writing about deeply dysfunctional relationships that are easily patched up, as in "Crazy, Stupid, Love" and "The Guilt Trip," isn't benefiting anyone.
The generation gap is oddly handled as well — somehow, all the pretty young things instantly flock to a group of men who think Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson used to sing with Tito and Jermaine.
Well, that makes perfect sense. At least as much as the choice to cast Turtle from "Entourage."
Sure, it's all in the name of fun, but with a little less artifice and generalities about getting older, Douglas and company could have made this much more relatable for everyone.
"Last Vegas" isn't a film any of its stars will recall as their best, yet its harmless approach suggests it won't go down as a regret for anyone, either. The men of a certain age who suddenly find themselves in a YOLO world have all earned the right to just have some laughs and throw caution to the wind.
Just don't forget your pills, boys.
Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.