Film review: Last Vegas (12A, 105 min)

Last Vegas: l-r Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kline
Last Vegas: l-r Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kline
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It’s the last of the summer whine...

Cut from the same frayed cloth as The Hangover, Last Vegas is a raucous comedy about four sexagenarian friends, whose cosy existence unravels during a boozy stag weekend in the Nevada desert.

Underlying tensions bubble to the surface, marital secrets are finally aired and one of the pensionable posse stiffens his resolve when a buxom young thing willingly offers herself to him.

The four old-timers also raise a glass to an army of scantily clad lovelies as unlikely judges of a poolside bikini competition compered by RedFoo, shaggy-haired front man of electro-rap duo LMFAO.

Screenwriter Dan Fogelman, who previously penned Crazy, Stupid, Love and The Guilt Trip, certainly knows how to peddle lustful fantasy across the age divide. As one of the characters tartly surmises, this is “the first bachelor party that could be covered under Medicaid.”

Fogelman also delivers an array of snappy one-liners so while the plot of Last Vegas might creak with familiarity, the film packs more big laughs into 105 minutes than The Hangover shoehorned into an entire trilogy.

Director Jon Turteltaub undercuts the geriatric lechery with genuine sweetness. There are some lovely exchanges between the lead actors as they confront years of regret and mortality against a gaudy backdrop of gambling machines, neon lights and rooftop roller-coasters.

“My brain cannot conceive how old this body is,” rues one of the group wistfully.

The ringmaster of the tomfoolery is Billy (Michael Douglas), who lost the love of his life to best friend Paddy (Robert De Niro) and has been commitment-shy ever since.

On the spur of the moment, Billy decides proposes to his younger, trophy girlfriend Lisa (Bre Blair).

“She’s 32,” Billy informs pal Archie (Morgan Freeman), who is resting in New England with his son Ezra (Michael Ealy).

“I have a haemorrhoid that’s almost 32,” quips Archie, who agrees to join Billy and the rest of the gang in Sin City for the stag party.

Sam (Kevin Kline), the third member of the troupe, departs home with the blessing of wife Miriam (Joanna Gleason). Meanwhile, Paddy, who hasn’t spoken to Billy since Sophie died, is lured to Las Vegas with a lie. A sexy lounge singer called Diana (Mary Steenburgen) convinces him to stay, re-igniting the old rivalry between Paddy and Billy for her worldly-wise affections.

Last Vegas defies the odds and gambles on the star power of the cast and Fogelman’s heartfelt script to deliver an entertaining mix of laughter and tears.

Freeman and Kline demonstrate impeccable comic timing while Douglas and De Niro rebuild bridges with a deft touch that treats us and the characters with respect.

Admittedly there are a few missteps and the occasional whiff of sexism, but Turteltaub’s film has its pacemaker in the right place.

Comedy/Drama/Romance. Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen, Jerry Ferrara, Romany Malco, Roger Bart. Director: Jon Turteltaub.