Last Vegas is a movie about four men who have been friends for 60 years, coming together in Vegas to celebrate one of their bachelor parties. Two of them have unresolved issues from the past — involving a girl no less. One of them could die from a sudden stroke relapse. And the other has more metal in his body than the bicentennial man. They seem ready for a relaxing weekend at the pub watching the football game over a few pints, or a trip to the doctor’s office. What they don’t seem ready for is a weekend of sex, booze and parties. Have they not seen The Hangover?
Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (Robert De Niro), Sam (Kevin Kline) and Archie (Morgan Freeman) have been the best of friends since they were 6 years old. The movie opens with one of those photobooth montages where all the kids are happy and the photographs capture it all. “No one calls us names but us”, Paddy says. And then we jump forward 58 years. They’re all old now, bogged down by every ailment and misfortune known to man. Paddy’s lost his wife. Archie’s life could abandon him at any moment. Sam’s sex life is as cold as his new knee replacement. And Billy’s about to get married to a babe who’s half his age.
Billy gathers the gang together and brings them to Vegas for the weekend before the wedding. Paddy doesn’t want to go; he’s upset with Billy over something. Archie has to lie to his overbearing son that he’s going on a church retreat. And Sam’s wife sends him to the airport with a condom and a viagra pill. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Indeed, what happens in Vegas in this movie is best left unmentioned. Much of what happens is either a variation of events from Todd Phillips’ The Hangover, or copied wholesale. What struck me as the most unsettling, though, was how easily and readily these four veterans of film assumed the perverse roles dictated to them. They objectify women. They have adulterous thoughts. And they judge a bikini contest hosted by the afro-ed dude of LMFAO (he himself is no icon of chivalry). The only female character given any substance is a mediocre lounge singer who apparently has nothing better to do with her life than to waddle around with visitors from out of town. Remember when I mentioned a girl wedging herself between two friends? Keep that in mind.
Billy, Sam, Paddy, and Archie are creepy men. They are creepy in the way they stare at every woman who walks past. The only time they display natural, cool, gentlemanly behaviour is when they’re around themselves. This is where they are the strongest. All four actors have been in the game so long that they know the ropes and how to bring out the best in each other’s weakest moments. They are what makes Last Vegas worth watching. When Douglas and De Niro try to woo a sexy lady, it is clear that they’re reciting dialogue without fully believing in the words that leave their lips. When they’re sharing personal information with each other, however, they admit to their history and give in to banter, frustration, and love. You can’t go wrong, with a formula like this, and all four men know it. Kline, in particular, is given some of the best lines.
Yes, at times Last Vegas plays like a travelogue of Vegas. There are gratuitous shots of hotels, fountains, sign boards, neon lights, women in bikinis, women coming out of pools in bikinis, luxury. Cirque Du Soleil, too, must have enjoyed chipping in to have its name and face plastered on every taxi; a few of its performers show us how the circus makes cocktails. In my opinion, I’d rather have my cocktail while the person is juggling.
Director Jon Turteltaub paints a very extravagant picture. Vegas is the place to be. No matter where you are from, how rich or poor you are, or how old you are, Vegas is the hip and happening spot. In The Hangover, Vegas came off as the villain. It sucked the poor men in and spat them out. In Last Vegas, Vegas is the hero. It takes a group of old friends and makes them feel young again. If only they were young again.
Best Moment | Can’t think of one.
Worst Moment | Any scene involving girls in bikinis or partying. Makes me sound like a reclusive homosexual, but too much is too much.