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The Laughs are on Life Support in Last Vegas

  • Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2013 11 Nov
  • COMMENTS
The Laughs are on Life Support in <i>Last Vegas</i>

DVD Release Date: January 28, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: November 1, 2013
Rating: PG-13 (sexual content and language)
Genre: Comedy
Run Time: 105 min.
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Cast: Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen, Jerry Ferrara

Like another recent colossal misfire The Counselor, Last Vegas is yet another instance where a slew of A-list talent still can't save a movie from being a total stinker. Already nicknamed "the geriatric equivalent of The Hangover," that's actually a pretty generous comparison considering how thoroughly uninspired the laughs are. For as much as The Hangover pushed the boundaries of good taste, its wacky, madcap sensibilities still kept viewers guessing.

In Last Vegas, the comedy is not only on life support to begin with (jokes about achy knees, troubles with modern technology and Viagra get old in a hurry), but the affable likes of Morgan Freeman (Now You See Me), Michael Douglas (Haywire), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook) and Kevin Kline (No Strings Attached) actually look downright bored for the duration. Save for a strong but all-too-brief supporting turn from Mary Steenburgen (Four Christmases) as the lounge singer that Billy (Douglas) and Paddy (De Niro) both fall for, never have the bright lights of Vegas looked so dim.

No doubt, everyone deals with aging and mortality a little differently, and for a group of childhood friends known as "the Flatbush Four," retirement has been challenging and disappointing. While giving the eulogy at his mentor's funeral, Billy, the perpetual playboy, begins to realize how short life truly is. Instead of using those feelings as a springboard for meaningful contemplation, however, he impulsively decides to propose to his girlfriend (who is a good 30+ younger, naturally) in the middle of remembering his friend. Yes, nothing says true love like proposing at a funeral, but ditzy Lisa (Bre Blair, TV's Two and a Half Men) couldn't be more excited about planning their quickie wedding in Vegas.

Of course, this little plot convenience is what inevitably sets the film's "Main Event" into motion. After phoning his longtime pals Sam (Kline) and Archie (Freeman) with his engagement news, they guys offer to send him off in style with a wild bachelor party. Since Sam is bored with married life in Florida and Archie's overprotective son has been driving him nuts since his recent stroke, it's the seemingly perfect excuse for a little escapist fun. But the Flatbush Four's reunion wouldn’t be complete with Paddy, of course. But since Billy and Paddy have been estranged (turns out, Billy skipped out on Paddy's wife's funeral a year before), Sam and Archie have also been tasked with convincing Paddy to be part of the festivities.

As it turns out, Paddy is the grumpiest of the old men. Ever since his wife passed away, he’s stubbornly refused to move on. In addition to having pictures of his beloved everywhere in his messy Brooklyn abode, Paddy also rarely ever leaves home. But with a little convincing and a well-placed lie, Sam and Archie eventually persuade him to board the plane to Vegas. Not surprisingly, he complains about how selfish and awful Billy is every step of the way and is shocked when he discovers the “real reason” he’s there.

With all the trivial set-up out of the way, Last Vegas quickly descends into a series of sitcom-y set-ups that never quite take off. Whether it’s Sam’s shameless flirting with a Madonna look-a-like who (gasp!) isn't really a material girl at all or the foursome's incessant gawking during the bikini contest they've been asked to judge, Last Vegas is jam-packed with cringe-worthy antics that are more uncomfortable than amusing.

In the grand tradition of blasé storytelling (a surprise considering that Dan Fogelman wrote the sweet and funny Crazy, Stupid, Love), there's never any doubt that everything will work out for the protagonists. As much as they’re rebelling against their natures by cutting loose, they'll make the right decisions when all is said and done. Trouble is, no one ever gave the audience a reason to care, which is why what happens in Last Vegas won’t be remembered once the credits roll.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking depicted often, sometimes to excess. Viagra is mentioned several times.
  • Language/Profanity: An f-bomb, plus several instances of sh--, dam-, as-, as-hol-, bast---. God’s name is also misused several times.
  • Sex/Nudity: Sam’s wife gives him Viagra and permission to sleep with whomever he likes in Vegas (what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas basically) because he’s been so “unhappy” at home. When given the opportunity to bed a willing twenty-something, however, he opts against it. We do see them kiss, however, and the young women takes off her top (her breasts are shown from the back, along with her bare back and the top of her bottom). When the young woman commends Sam for not cheating on his wife, he jokingly asks if oral sex is on the table. There are also numerous close-ups and cleavage-baring shots of scantily clad women. The guys judge a swimsuit contest, and the women are dressed in very skimpy bikinis. Sam hits on a woman who turns out to be a man. He also picks up several fliers that are handed out with naked women with their breasts and lower region strategically covered with stars. A male dancer in very tiny undies shakes his genitalia in Paddy’s face. A married couple is shown in bed (no nudity) after having sex.
  • Violence: A bar fight breaks out.
  •  Religion: Archie leaves a note saying he went on a church retreat instead of Vegas. When Archie’s son calls him and hears the normal casino noise in the background, Archie says that's just the Holy Spirit "moving."

*This Article First Published 11/1/13