“Dick.” “Asshole.” That’s old childhood friends Paddy (the Oscar-winning Robert De Niro) and Archie (the Oscar-winning Morgan Freeman) after they reunite for a bachelor party in Vegas. The bachelor in question? Billy (the Oscar-winning Michael Douglas), a ladies’ man who’s found himself a girl to marry. He’s in his 60s. Her age? A sprightly 32.
“I have a haemorrhoid that’s almost 32!” declares Archie. Your reaction to that joke will determine whether you’ll like Last Vegas or loathe it. After all, it’s hardly treading new ground. In fact, Jon Turtletaub’s film makes a point of treading old ground, taking The Hangover‘s formula and geriatrifying it for an older audience in what seems to be a risk-free move.
What’s surprising, though, is that it spends a lot of time treading other old ground too; the kind of ground that has both emotion and depth.
Married man Sam (the Oscar-winning Kevin Kline) completes the antiquated quartet. Given permission to cheat his way out of his marriage’s stale patch, he spends most of the movie telling every woman he meets that he has a condom from his wife. (Think Hall Pass, but with more Viagra.) Like all of the Oscar-winning cast, Kline is way above this material. Like all of the Oscar-winning cast, though, he somehow pulls it off, his dry delivery actually causing you to chuckle several times.
Morgan Freeman manages to do the same with his role of a dad smothered by his protective son: one scene where he lets loose after a few drinks is the most fun we’ve seen him have since Wanted. But it’s Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas who impress the most, sparring over a back-story surrounding Paddy’s late wife, for whom they both had feelings. De Niro slumps and grouches with little inspiration, but hot on the glittering heels of Behind The Candelabra, Douglas is a force to be reckoned with; his charisma sells his playboy reputation, while his growing awareness of his wrinkles adds an unexpected, serious note to proceedings.
Paddy and Billy’s love triangle is reignited by the introduction of lounge singer Diana (Mary Steenburgen). Flirting with both men, Steenburgen’s silky vocals and chirpy sass bring enough spark to the script to turn Last Vegas into a likeable, at times twee romance about ageing rather than the bawdy, sex-filled outing you might expect.
Writer Dan Fogelman still tries hard to include as many Vegas antics as possible, including a cameo from 50 Cent and a bikini competition to cater to the young boys in the audience. Turtletaub’s camera, meanwhile, ogles when possible. The result is The Best Exotic Marigold Hangover, a disjointed movie that can’t decide whether it wants to be edgy or safe. At times, you wish it would be more reckless and throw away the walking stick and bet it all on some risky laughs.
The uneven comedy pays off in the end, though, if only because of the quality of the cast; in the hands of anyone else, these would be four shallow, sexist stereotypes with no substance (and one hell of a tailor). With an ensemble who have gambled on potentially duff projects before, though, Last Vegas‘ wager works. These may be dicks and assholes, but unlike The Hangover, they are mature dicks and assholes.
If you like the sound of Morgan Freeman’s haemorrhoids, there are worse things to put your money on.
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