Movie Review: 'Last Vegas' (2013)

CBS Films, Universal Pictures

 Branded by some as a senior citizen version of “The Hangover”, it’s easy to draw surface-level comparisons between the two films. Both share the plot similarity of a group of male friends going to Vegas for a friend’s bachelor party. That is where the similarities end though.

There are no drunken exploits with resulting blackouts or the loss of one of the group members. “Last Vegas” is done mostly sober and with the respectability that comes from a genuine camaraderie between friends.

The youth-oriented, “The Hangover” cannot compete, in terms of telling the story of friendship. The characters of “Last Vegas” are true friends who have each other’s backs and not in the modern fashion featured in recent, party movie fare.

This is old school companionship and brotherhood, a code among men, not petulant Peter Pans who are embarrassingly juvenile and desperate to hold on to one another because of what they shallowly represent.

Starring an all-star cast that includes Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline, these acting legacies prove they still have it. An on-screen chemistry of friendship is apparent between the cast. Each character’s respective journey into accepting their advanced age is well told.

They each represent a common archetype of the senior experience, Paddy (Robert De Niro) the widower, Billy (Michael Douglas) the fountain of youth seeker, Archie (Morgan Freeman) the doting grandpa and Sam (Kevin Kline), the aging Casanova.

As the film progresses, they set out on a personal journey of self-discovery, trying to determine who they are now that most of life’s major milestones have been accomplished. It is refreshing to see the older generation front and center. In a youth-obsessed culture, the voice of an older generation that laid all of the groundwork to create what younger people enjoy has been silenced.

Having their stories told is something that needs to be done and “Last Vegas” majorly succeeds in this endeavor. It is candid about aging and the repercussions both light and heavy, that goes along with it.

Director Jon Turteltaub (“National Treasure”) infuses the movie with high energy and gusto. The only stumble the film makes is with its soundtrack. Instead of playing the music of the generation portrayed, the loud top-40 power-pop of artists like Pit Bull is played, ad nauseam.

If the intention was to play up the contrast of the older generation’s classic style against the arrogant verbose of current pop, it got lost in translation. The target demo for this movie should be an older audience. In light of that, the choice of music is puzzling, to say the least. 

All of the performances are sharp and seeing these legends come together for one big hurrah is a ‘can’t miss’ event. De Niro always packs an emotional wallop and his performance here is no exception. Douglas’ youthful enthusiasm is as contagious as ever.

Morgan Freeman brings his signature sincerity and comedic timing, balancing them with some quaint dramatic moments as well. Kevin Kline proves that he still has all of his trademark charisma and lady’s man appeal. 

It’s a thrill to watch all of these marvelous actors share the screen with each other and the expectations bred from the promise of their union, meets expectations. “Last Vegas” is an entertaining ride that elicits some hearty laughter, a lasting comedy. Rating: 7.9/10