Last Vegas is quite a pessimistic name for a rather optimistic comedy about a group of four childhood friends (all nearing seventy) who rediscover their joie de vivre as they party away in Las Vegas. Director Jon Turteltaub takes the typical Hangover-style bachelor movie down a couple of notches to a level of reflection and re-evaluation. The film leads to reveal fears of loneliness and old age comforted by love and friendship.
Played by a cast of Academy Award winners Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline, the characters fall into the unavoidable Las Vegas clichés of distasteful sexiness, drinking and gambling. Douglas effortlessly plays Billy, the veteran partier and groom-to-be. After his fear of death sees him inadvertently proposing to his thirty-something girlfriend while speaking at a friend’s funeral, Billy leads his three friends out of their miserable lives of deteriorating health, sex lives and social contact.
The film journeys through the decisions made by the characters since they left their youth and as they begin to question their happiness in their late sixties. Rather than mocking the elderly characters portrayed in contrast to the youthful, near-naked and alcohol-fuelled clubbers of Las Vegas, the plot grasps at the initial appeal to the protagonists of such a vibrant environment and lifestyle. Gradually, it responds that this shallow, constant partying is merely an escape and not truly a solution for matters such as personal fulfillment and genuine relationships with others.
Morgan is endearing as Archie, who leads a coddled life at home with his son after suffering a stroke but is the main source of the cheeky tricks and drunken jokes while in Las Vegas. Kline also throws in good one-liners as Sam, albeit the palm-in-face, cringe-worthy type that one might expect from their dad. Contrastingly, De Niro is excellent as Paddy, the cynical widower of the group. From the beginning, he brings to the film a realistic view on the superficiality of Las Vegas’ lifestyle to support his pre-Vegas beliefs that life remains permanently hollow for the elderly.
Last Vegas successfully take shots of life’s tough liquor, and then trips up on the existing problems of broken friendships, love lost and growing old, before finally raising a toast to meaningful achievements and old friendships.
Last Vegas is released nationwide on 3rd January 2014.
Watch the trailer for Last Vegas here: