Friday, November 01, 2013

The Lame, Almost Laugh Free LAST VEGAS Isn't Completely Lifeless At Least

Opening today at a multiplex near you:

LAST VEGAS (Dir. Jon Turteltaub, 2013)

Four Oscar winners - Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, and Kevin Kline - join together for a film that will win no Oscars.

The famous foursome play friends since childhood (forget that their ages range from 66 to 76) who hit Vegas for some bachelor party shenanigans in this crappy comedy that critics everywhere are calling THE HANGOVER for the geriatric set.

I’m not a fan of THE HANGOVER movies, but they at least have more of an attempt at a narrative; LAST VEGAS just piles on a bunch of city of sin set-piece ideas (the guys judge a bikini competition, get in a bar fight, pretend to be mob bosses, etc.) that seem right off the top of the head of the film’s screenwriter Dan Fogleman (CARS, CRAZY STUPID LOVE, THE GUILT TRIP).

The bare as bones back story is that in their youth, Douglas and De Niro’s characters had been in a love triangle of sorts with a girl who chose De Niro. The gruff as ever De Niro is now a widower who’s angry at Douglas, now engaged to woman half his age, for not coming to his wife’s funeral.

Other loose story threads are that Kline has been given a “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” card from his wife (Johanna Gleason) so he’s got a HALL PASS thing going on, and that Freeman is sneaking out on his overprotective son (Michael Ealy), who thinks his old man is going on a church retreat.

Another Oscar winner, Mary Steenburgen, pops up as a torch singer in a rundown lounge, all smiling and amused at the guy’s antics. Predictably Douglas and De Niro both fall for her in scenes devised to give the proceedings some emotional weight, but end up feeling shoehorned into this glib series of geezer sex gags.

There’s also the cringe-worthy scenario of the fellows bossing around Jerry Farrera (Turtle from Entourage). Their Parks Hotel concierge (Weeds’ Romany Malco) told Farrera that the guys are the heads of four crime syndicate families so he’d be scared into serving them. That obviously means that there’s terrible tough-guy jokes in the miserable mix to contend with too.

I have to say though, that castling Turtle does nail the air-headed Entourage guys-bonding-through-partying ethos the film is going for. The energy the leads put into their performances does elevate the flimsy material at times I also feel I should add.

But while it’s far from lifeless, LAST VEGAS is a lame, almost laugh-free, piece of PG-13 fluff that will please only incredibly undemanding crowds. 

It’s funny (funnier than anything in the movie, anyway) how Kline comes off like William H. Macy in WILD HOGS. That is, the one guy that you’d thought wouldn’t get caught slumming it up in such commercial dreck like this. However, more power to him because he looks like he’s having a better time than anybody else onscreen. I can't help thinking that his character and performance so deserve to be part of a much better movie.

More later...

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