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Off Their Rockers, but Not Hung Over

MOVIE REVIEW
Last Vegas (2013)

Last-vegas-movie-review-michael-douglas-robert-de-niro-morgan-freeman-kevin-kline
Chuck Zlotnick/CBS Films

With Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline as best pals gathering in Sin City for a bachelor party, “Last Vegas” has been dubbed “The Hangover” for the sexagenarian set. But anyone actually expecting amnesiac high jinks and excessive debauchery will be in for a big disappointment. The film is about as exciting and hilarious as watching a busload of seniors from the home take a field trip to church, then stop by Olive Garden to take advantage of its unlimited soup, salad and bread sticks before an afternoon at the bingo parlor. But unexpectedly, “Last Vegas” turns out to be a pretty moving drama about the price one pays for lifelong friendships.

It begins with an extremely short and to-the-point expository childhood scene — featuring four pint-size actors who bear uncanny resemblances to our quartet of past Oscar recipients — with just enough information to foreshadow the proceedings. Then the story skips 58 years to present day, when the four are scattered across the country and separately leading unrewarding lives. Billy (Mr. Douglas) calls up Sam (Mr. Kline) and Archie (Mr. Freeman), inviting them to his wedding to a woman three decades his junior (Weronika Rosati). Sam and Archie are tasked with baiting Paddy (Mr. De Niro) to come along for the ride, because he’s been holding a grudge against Billy for his absence at the funeral for Paddy’s wife.

The film’s comedic highlights include: Mr. Freeman busting a move on the dance floor, the geezers thinking Curtis Jackson is a member of the Jackson 5, the gang pretending to be “heads of prominent East Coast families” in order to school some disrespectful young punk (Jerry Ferrara), and Redfoo, of the band LMFAO, thrusting his Speedo-clad pelvis toward Mr. De Niro’s sourpuss face while the four are judging a bikini contest. Although the awkwardly paced first act will probably be re-edited ahead of the scheduled November release, it’s unlikely to turn the film into an actual laugh riot. But the four acting giants did not let their talents go to waste. When Mr. Douglas exchanges glances with Mary Steenburgen, as lounge singer Diana, across the room, no dialogue is even necessary. The climactic revelations of the secrets, sacrifices and regrets that it took to maintain lifelong friendships are so poignant, they assuage any nagging suspicion that these four legends might be coasting on their reputations.

LAST VEGAS

Opens on Nov. 1 in the United States and on Jan. 3, 2014 in Britain.

Directed by Jon Turteltaub; written by Dan Fogelman; director of photography, David Hennings; edited by David Rennie; music by Mark Mothersbaugh; production design by David J. Bomba; costumes by Dayna Pink; produced by Laurence Mark and Amy Baer; released by CBS Films (United States) and Universal Pictures (Britain). Running time: 1 hour 44 minutes. This film is rated PG-13 by M.P.A.A. and 12A by B.B.F.C.

WITH: Michael Douglas (Billy), Robert De Niro (Paddy), Morgan Freeman (Archie), Kevin Kline (Sam), Joanna Gleason (Miriam), Mary Steenburgen (Diana), Bre Blair (Lisa), Romany Malco (Lonnie) and Roger Bart (Maurice).

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