Opens Fri., Nov. 1 at Sundance and other theaters. Rated PG-13. 104 minutes.
The four actors assembled for the old boys’ night out that is Last Vegas all have Oscars on their shelves. This movie will not win any of those. Still, it is a measure of their skill that they do not betray a hint of embarrassment or condescension in the course of this lightweight bash. Perhaps they sense the shrewdness behind the project, which combines Hangover-lite hijinks with last-go-round mellowness.
They’re the Flatbush Four, buddies-for-life who gather in Sin City for the marriage of the slickest and most successful of them, Billy (Michael Douglas—who else?). In a spasm of feeling his mortality, Billy has proposed to his 31-year-old girlfriend, and the occasion puts the chums in a variety of moods. Archie (Morgan Freeman) wants to flee the safety of elderly life; Paddy (Robert De Niro) still grieves over his late wife, who chose him over Billy a lifetime ago; Sam (Kevin Kline) has a free weekend pass from his wife to get as crazy as he wants, as long as it snaps him out of his funk. Does Kline seem the odd man out there, somehow an actor of a different generation? He did lag behind the others in making a big-screen first impression, although he’s only three years younger than Douglas. He certainly seems younger in Last Vegas, executing funny walks and finding fresh ways of delivering his lines. The others are cast so on-the-nose—De Niro grouchy, Douglas cocky—you can be forgiven for wondering what might’ve happened if they’d switched roles around.
Another Oscar-winner lurks in the cast: Mary Steenburgen, as a lounge chantoozie named Diana, an age-appropriate partner for whichever of the guys can move quickest. It’s nice to see Steenburgen get more lines than usual, and sobering to think of how long she’s been around without the opportunities of her male colleagues.
Things in Vegas go as you’d expect. The old-age jokes are doled out in different degrees of groan-worthiness, with asides about how rude these young kids are today, but hey—if we set an example, they might learn something. Director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) is an old hand at finding the comic beats in this kind of package, and the film moves along so smoothly it’s almost alarming. Nothing breaks the surface, and no moment gets close to the authentically restless elderly angst of Martin Brest’s Going in Style, a forgotten 1979 George Burns vehicle. Last Vegas is just one more trip down the bucket list.