The morbidly titled Last Vegas turns out to not be so morbid after all. Its central cast is big Hollywood A-listers playing old friends (old in both senses of the word) who take a trip to Vegas just because they can. The creaking floorboards of death aren’t as important as making up for lost time – “58 YEARS LATER,” says the on-screen caption, omitting a winking emoticon.
When Michael Douglas impulsively proposes to a woman half his age, a bachelor party is set in motion. Billy’s pals need some convincing, as it’s been a while since the gang last hung out properly. Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline are excited to escape everyday doldrums, while Robert De Niro sighs and has the same facial expression that probably occurred while reading the script. De Niro’s real reluctance is brought up later into the plot (and as the plot), in a rather inconsequential manner.
Really, Last Vegas is an excuse for four elderly celebrities to get fictionally hammered and dance with young women – early on, they judge a bikini contest and grant 10/10 to nearly every female contestant. If the trailer or advertising makes it look like The Hangover with old people, that’s not quite right, as there is no hangover. The comedy precedes the inevitable headache and regret, as the party goes on and on with little to lose. Freeman just so happens to win a jackpot in the casino. Alcohol just so happens to not have drastic effect. Young women just so happen to be attracted to men nearly three times their age.Mary Steenburgen makes a brief appearance as a romantic target for De Niro, although she, like the other women, exists as a narrative prop rather than a character (which is noted whenever the men regularly forget a woman’s name). She does, however, create one of the few moments of tension – as someone who barely walks into their life. Similarly, all Douglas has at stake is whether he cancels his ill-advised marriage.
With so little to lose, Last Vegas turns into a party where the viewer isn’t offered a drink. There’s little to ponder (aside from gender politics that obviously didn’t develop during the 58 years). A better film would be the contract negotiations that explain how much the main four were paid. Oh well – at least they have a decent time.