Aging With Humor in ‘Vegas’
Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline could be the figureheads for a Mount Rushmore tribute to screen actors of a certain age. While the frothy comedy Last Vegas isn’t an honor on that level, it’s an agreeable time-waster that allows the formidable four to hang loose, have fun and hand out life lessons to whippersnappers.
The film opens with a setup that’s pure sitcom. Wealthy Lothario Douglas is about to wed a Malibu Barbie a third his age, so he rounds up the old gang for a Sin City bachelor party. Freeman, a stroke survivor feeling overprotected by his adult son, and Kline, a married would-be swinger who wants to stave off the shuffleboard stage another few years, fall in quickly. De Niro, a crabby widower with a grudge against Douglas, takes some persuading.
Having set the bar low for viewers’ expectations, the film occasionally surprises us with a handful of jokes that hit the target. Kline’s wife sends him on his way with a condom and a Viagra tablet in hopes that a little adventure will put the wind back in his sails. Hosting a wild party in the gang’s palatial suite, Freeman breaks out delightful dance moves with a funky Electric Slide. Douglas and De Niro declare a cease-fire, only to resume hostilities when both fall for an age-appropriate lounge singer (Mary Steenburgen).
Screenwriter Dan Fogelman (of the vastly superior Crazy, Stupid, Love) supplies countless color-by-numbers old-guy jokes. (Retirees judging a raucous bikini contest? Comedy gold! A tubby old lady joining the lineup? High-larious!) He also sprinkles in a few zingers for younger viewers who may be at the theater chaperoning Pop Pop. When Freeman knocks back his first vodka and Red Bull, he declares, “It’s like getting drunk and electrocuted at the same time.” Romany Malco supplies a blast of youth-comedy cred as the gents’ hotel concierge, and a top rapper pops up for a didn’t-see-that-coming cameo.
The movie is ultimately as rewarding as a bad run at the craps table, but I couldn’t bring myself to hate it. Not quite.
Rating: PG-13 on appeal for sexual content and language.