The cheesy pun in the title of Last Vegas pretty much lets you know how seriously this film can – or should – be taken. It’s silly, it’s goofy, it’s flashy, it’s light. Surprisingly, it’s also not all that bad.
Last Vegas tells the story of four seventy-ish Brooklyn boyhood friends whose lives have all settled into boring routines around the country and reunite for one last blow-out in Vegas for the wedding of one of the buddies.
We are introduced to them as children, in a flashback scene in which these four tough Brooklyn kids (oddly, not one of the kid actors hired has anything close to a Brooklyn accent) take on a bully at the local drug store soda counter.
Flash forward 58 years (ouch).
Archie (Morgan Freeman) has recently moved in with his son and his wife, both of whom are babying him after Archie suffered a small stroke.
Sam (Kevin Kline) is an aging accountant who has moved with his wife (Joanna Gleason) to a Florida retirement community and has now become crotchety and miserable. His wife is so disappointed by Sam’s complete lack of passion about anything that she sends him to Vegas with a Viagra and a condom and permission to have a one-night-stand if it gets him out of his funk.
Paddy (Robert De Niro) is a morose recent widower who now hides from life in his apartment, which is a shrine to his late wife, who was a neighborhood girl also in the flashback. He is the hardest to get on the trip, because he is holding some kind of serious grudge against the new groom.
And finally there is Billy, the most successful of the group, who has become a rich businessman who is marrying his much younger girlfriend, a fact that the guys never let him forget. “I’ve got shirts more than 32 years old,” Archie chides him.
Is Last Vegas worthy of the talents of four of the best actors of the last generation? (And arguably one of the better actresses: Mary Steenburgen has a very significant supporting role.) Hells to the no. This is even taking into account the low, low bar that Robert De Niro has set for himself over the last couple of decades.
But does it work as a light comic diversion? Yes, surprisingly well, actually.
Yes, it is essentially The Hangover for the AARP set. But the charisma of these savvy old acting pros never allow the formula to overwhelm the whole enterprise. For the acting alone, Last Vegas never wears out its welcome.