Last Vegas Dir. Jon Turteltaub

[CBS Films; 2013]

Styles: comedy
Others: Swingers, The Bucket List, Grumpy Old Men

If there’s any reason, however small, that we can calmly stomach the existence of a movie like Last Vegas, it’s that the ads for it don’t tout the pedigrees of the four lead actors. This, despite the fact that all four have Oscars on their mantels and plenty of other acting awards to boot. Why is that a good thing? Because there’s no need to see this film for its acting. Good heavens, no. These are four gents who have their legacies in the entertainment industry secured. All that they seem to be required to do at this point, really, is show up, coast through their scenes, and head back to their estates.

And that bare minimum is precisely what you get in this picture. Four vaunted thespians phoning it in for 100 minutes and perhaps having a blast doing it. Don’t take that to mean I think you should spend your hard-earned money to see this in the theater. Wait until you get stuck on an airplane with a dead laptop battery and nothing to read. Then, and only then, should you accept Last Vegas into your life.

Let’s knock the plot out of the way real quick like for anyone who hasn’t had a commercial for this thing shoved in their faces recently. The four leads are lifelong buddies who all get together in Las Vegas to send off the wealthy eternal bachelor (Michael Douglas) before he marries a woman who is about half his age. You get the three other senior citizen stereotypes as well: the sad, embittered widower (Robert DeNiro); a recovering stroke victim (Morgan Freeman) being coddled by his grown son; and the Florida retiree (Kevin Kline) who’s been given a free pass to cheat by (and on) his wife in the form of a condom and a Viagra. That this film only has a couple of little blue pill jokes is nothing short of a miracle. With everything set in motion, it’s just a race to see who learns a lesson the quickest and who can deliver the best one-liner before it all fades to black. Oh, and throw in a new love interest in the form of a fading lounge singer (Mary Steenburgen).

Even with all these acting heavyweights onscreen together, it should surprise no one is that only Kevin Kline really has any facility with the comedic aspects of this film. His subtle line readings and bits of physical schtick are always a joy to watch, and this film is no exception. And in those few moments when he has to get “serious,” as when finally faced with the prospect of actually sleeping with another woman, he measures out his reactions carefully and tastefully.

Would that we could say the same about his three compatriots, not to mention Romany Falco and Jerry Ferrara in ancillary roles, hamming it up considerably. As is their right, I guess, to act like don’t have nothing to prove to nobody at this point. Does that mean you should drop $12 or more dollars to watch them do all of that in the shadow of gaudy buildings and unchecked opulence? Fuck no. Just know that this film’s out there in the world harming no one and keeping four actors off the streets for a little while.

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