I'm not going to lie to you: there are a lot of really dumb jokes at the expense of old people in LAST VEGAS, a film that throws together no fewer than five Oscar-winning actors and hopes they're smart enough to make something out of this Dan Fogelman (CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE; THE GUILT TRIP) script that attempts to elicit laughter and tears in equal measure. Spoiler alert: it has better luck with the laughs.
LAST VEGAS is about four childhood friends from New York who have more or less kept in touch over the years. When the group's sole bachelor, Billy (Michael Douglas, looking George Hamilton tan) announces he's engaged to his 30-something girlfriend, he decides to pull the old gang back together for the first time in decades for a Vegas bachelor party to precede his Vegas wedding. Without much fuss, widower with a heart condition Archie (Morgan Freeman) and happily married Sam (Kevin Kline) are on board. But it takes some convincing to get Paddy (Robert De Niro) to come, partly because his wife has recently died and he's in mourning, and partly because he had a falling out with Billy over what, we don't know (but you'd be right if you guessed we eventually find out).
Needless to say, the boys all end up in Vegas and start doing the Vegas thing. Archie suddenly wins about $100,000 playing blackjack, so money is no limit, and they're given the VIP suite and a caretaker in the form of Lonnie (Romany Malco from THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN). The men end up at a dive lounge bar where the lovely singer, Diana (Mary Steenburgen, who still looks amazing in a tight dress), captures their ear and a couple of their hearts.
During the course of their Vegas weekend, they manage to get into a bit of harmless trouble, poke fun at each others' signs of getting older, make a young punk (Jerry Ferrara) think they are dangerous gangsters and turn him into their personal gopher. And by the end of their few days there, the whole town pretty much ends up in their hotel suite—just like in real life. Look, I'm not going to try to tell you that having these powerhouse actors makes LAST VEGAS a great movie; it isn't. But it does make it a better experience overall. I was especially tickled by Kline's asides and weird behavior, as the man whose wife (Joanna Gleason) is so cool, she gives him a "pass" to sleep with any other woman while he's away because she knows it's been a while for him. So you can pretty much guess how that scenario turns out.
De Niro probably has the most well-rounded character as a man with more complicated emotions about both his departed wife and this new woman who enters his life. Steenburgen is the heart and soul of the film, and she makes even the most intolerable moments slightly easier to handle. She refuses to see these men as old, and that makes them all feel a whole lot better about themselves and the chaos they are creating.
Director Jon Turteltaub is an expert in making lightweight, crowd-pleasing films like the two NATIONAL TREASURE movies, PHENOMENON and WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING (but not THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE, which made nobody feel good), and he does a decent job pulling out some enjoyable moments from this obvious script. But honestly, how much more can Hollywood drain out of the Vegas comedy? It's a dry well, folks, and it's time to fill it with concrete and let it rest in peace for at least 10 more years. LAST VEGAS might appeal to the older crowd or to folks who have never seen a comedy set in Vegas, ever. If you don't fall into either of these categories, you could be in for a long night out.