City of Oscar Winners
Last Vegas borrows its tagline from the popular sitcom How I Met Your Mother. “It’s going to be legendary,” the movie’s poster tells us. Whether the movie itself turns out to be legendary is maybe neither here nor there, but there’s no denying that the movie’s cast has already earned legendary status. With no less than fourteen combined acting Oscar nominations and five wins, the idea of seeing these beloved veteran actors muck it up in Vegas alone should be enough to get most moviegoers into the theaters. Fortunately, the movie does not fail to disappoint.
The movie opens like a scene out of the movie The Sandlot, with four childhood friends teasing and taunting each other in a 1950s Brooklyn soda shop. When an outsider tries to taunt their group, however, he’s told that “nobody calls us names except for us” right before he takes one across the chin. Fast-forward 58 years and the “Flatbush Four,” as they call themselves, is spread all over the country and dealing with the problems of their advancing ages.
Billy, the one who continues to deny that he has gotten older, has just proposed to his 32-year-old girlfriend in Malibu. When he breaks the news to his old friends, they insist that they must throw him a bachelor party in Vegas. The friends arrive in Vegas and immediately begin enjoying some of the benefits of Sin City, but like a lot of old friends, there are some unresolved issues that still need to be addressed. A shared attraction for a local lounge singer only adds to the complication.
The “Flatbush Four” are played by Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline, each of whom has at least one Oscar to their name. As if that wasn’t enough, the movie’s female lead, Mary Steenburgen, also has an Oscar to her name.
Leading up to the movie’s release, Last Vegas was constantly being unfairly compared to The Hangover. But aside from the fact that both movies are about bachelor parties taking place in Las Vegas, the two movies have very little in common.
That’s not to say there isn’t any heavy drinking in Last Vegas. The best example is a scene in which Freeman’s Archie discovers Vodka Redbulls. Although each actor in the film is great, Freeman stands out for the simple reason that comedies are a rarity for the stately actor. This makes it all the more entertaining when Archie gets hammered and decides he wants to dance. Close behind Freeman in the comedy race is Kline, whose Sam has been given permission from his wife to have an affair while he’s in Vegas, an accomplishment he immediately sets out to achieve with wonderfully comic results. Kline is also a one-liner machine and delivers many of the movie’s best bits of dialogue.
Douglas and DeNiro also have their comic moments, but they are also charged with carrying the movie’s dramatic storyline. Their conflict seems forced at first, but as it progresses and we learn more about their past, it generates some genuine emotion. The two also both end up courting Steenburgen’s Diana and it is easy to see why as the actress is charming and has aged very well.
Last Vegas is exactly what you would hope it would be: a fun romp with four of the most accomplished actors in Hollywood history. There’s nothing groundbreaking, but it is consistently entertaining and sometimes that is all we need from a Hollywood comedy. It even leaves itself open for a sequel, an idea that I’d be totally down with.
Last Vegas is rated PG-13 for “sexual content and language.” The movie was originally rated R, but was changed to PG-13 on appeal. The rating does feel appropriate. An R rating would have surprised me.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Last Vegas.