Four sixty-somethings head to Vegas for a stag do in this frivolous comedy with a starry cast
The presence of Kevin Kline amongst the four aging partygoers in Jon Turteltaub’s Last Vegas harks back to Lawrence Kasdan’s far superior 1983 film The Big Chill, in which Kline played one of the thirty-somethings who converge for a weekend of chat after a funeral. Last Vegas turns that idea on its head; this time it's the stag-do of the aging Billy (Michael Douglas) that’s the social occasion which pulls together Kline, Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman, and the frivolous target is getting wasted, Hangover style.
There’s a certain amount of pleasure from seeing men in their late sixties acting like teenagers, but Last Vegas grounds the frivolity in old-fashioned character arcs. Billy is marrying a girl cartoonishly younger than him, but is given second thoughts by a dalliance with lounge singer Diana (Mary Steenburgen). Sam (Kline) is thrilled that his wife has allowed him off the leash with permission to enjoy a sexual encounter, but he’s anxious that his old pulling-power has disappeared. And while Archie (Freeman) is cheerful about his escape from a demeaning home-situation, Paddy (De Niro) is an unwilling participant, his thoughts remaining at home with the memories of his dead wife.
The revelation that Billy had a previous relationship with De Niro’s wife is one of a number of predictable plot twists in Dan Fogelman’s script, but Turteltaub wisely avoids the worst misogynist excesses of the party-animal genre and relies more on putting his cast through more gentle paces. Excessive Vegas product placement and meaningless cameos (50 Cent and Redfoo from LMFAO appear briefly to little effect) reveal a lack of certainty about the film’s target audience, but those keen to see four princes of 80s cinema going through the motions will find their Last Vegas gamble pays off in minor ways.
General release from Fri 3 Jan.