Review: The Cleverness of Last Vegas Ends with the Title

Amore, American Style.
Amore, American Style.

Touted as The Hangover for the elderly, Last Vegas is a terrible way to earn a paycheck for four actors (all Academy Award winners) whose best days are way behind them. We are used to Robert De Niro squandering his talent in lesser movies, but I thought Kevin Kline and Morgan Freeman had better sense than joining a crass comedy that invariably goes for the lower hanging fruit.

The flimsy plot goes like this: Four childhood friends reunite in Las Vegas for the wedding of Billy (Michael Douglas), the wealthiest of the group, with a girl half his age. The event serves as an excuse to have Billy and Paddy (Robert De Niro) in the same room, after some unpleasantness following Paddy’s wife’s funeral. A new wedge between the two takes the form of a lounge singer of certain age (Mary Steenburgen) who falls for both of them.

De Niro and Douglas display their usual on-screen personas, but at least get something to work with. Poor Kevin Kline is saddled with a Hall Pass’ recycled subplot while Morgan Freeman doesn’t even bother to act. The whole movie seems financed by the casino/hotel the foursome is staying at (not 15 minutes go by without a reminder), not to mention the product placement across the board.

Last Vegas is a tremendously condescending film, particularly for the target audience: Watch De Niro being stupefied by technology; Kline using Viagra, Freeman going crazy after a Red Bull and Douglas oversharing details of his sex life (oh, wait, that actually happened.) That lady rapping midway through The Wedding Singer wouldn’t be out of place in this flick.

Very briefly, Last Vegas flirts with poignancy by hinting that Billy has Alzheimer and Paddy is victim of depression. No such luck. I imagine the notes from the studio: “Old age’s tragedies have no place in a movie about the elderly!” Somebody should tell the leads of Last Vegas retirement would have been a lot more dignified. One young at heart prairie dog.

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.