Rating: PG-13 (Sexual content and language)
Length: 105 minutes
Release Date: November 1, 2013
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub
Stars: 3.5 out of 5
“Last Vegas” (watch trailer) is another blockbuster from director Jon Turteltaub, who is best known for the “National Treasure” movie series as well as for his work on “Jericho,” a widely popular television series. It’s been a few years since Turteltaub has been in the spotlight, but “Last Vegas” is sure to bring the director’s career back to life. With an all-star cast featuring Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, and Morgan Freeman as the four lead characters, “Last Vegas” is already off to a good start.
“Last Vegas” is a comedy about four aging men named Billy, Paddy, Sam, and Archie. These four men have been friends since they were children, and three of them have families of their own. Billy is the only bachelor of the group. When he finally asks his girlfriend to marry him, his three friends take him on a wild trip to Las Vegas, where they plan to act like young men all over again. Of course, when they arrive in Las Vegas, the four friends realize that the city is not the same as they remembered it from several decades ago.
Morgan Freeman’s character, Archie, is seventy-six years old and the oldest of the group by several years. Archie is constantly guarded by his son, who is overprotective of Archie’s health after a mild stroke. Kevin Kline’s character, Sam, is sixty-six years old and the youngest of the four friends. Sam is living a comfortable but boring retired life in Florida. Paddy, played by Robert De Niro, is deeply depressed after losing his wife and never leaves his lonely apartment in New York. Billy, Michael Douglas’s character, is the group’s bachelor. In spite of being sixty-nine years old, Billy is still a ladies’ man and a very successful attorney in Malibu. Even though he’s still very active, he decides it’s finally time to settle down and proposes to his girlfriend, who is barely thirty years old. Upon hearing of their friend’s long overdue engagement, Sam and Archie decide to take Billy to Las Vegas, but they have to practically drag Paddy along with them. Paddy and Billy have a rough past together, and Paddy still harbors plenty of resentment. The rocky relationship between them is a major part of the story and provides plenty of real conflict.
The actors have all crossed paths throughout their careers, but “Last Vegas” is the first project they’ve all collaborated on together. Even though they were all relatively unfamiliar with each other before they started filming, the actors interact as if they really have been friends for decades. Morgan Freeman’s performance is especially notable. He is usually cast in grave or serious roles, and he still has a dry, solemn sense of humor even when he’s in a comedy such as “Bruce Almighty.” However, in “Last Vegas,” Freeman really cuts loose and has a great time. Mary Steenburgen’s performance is also notable. “Last Vegas” gives her a chance to shine with one of her best movie roles in several years. She plays the role of Diana, a talented singer who is full of wisdom and optimism. Robert De Niro is his usual stubborn self, but his character is surprisingly tragic in an otherwise fairly lighthearted comedy. Kevin Kline and Michael Douglas also deliver great performances.
It’s almost impossible to go wrong with an all-star cast, but “Last Vegas” doesn’t just rely on the talents of the actors. The film has a heartwarming and genuinely funny story that would have made for a good movie even if the actors had been unknowns. Of course, having stars such as De Niro and Freeman is the icing on the cake. It’s no surprise that the writing for “Last Vegas” is above and beyond most modern comedies; Dan Fogelman, known for his work on films such as “Tangled” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” was the primary writer. While “Last Vegas” is sure to be especially popular among moviegoers who’ve been fans of the leading actors since they were huge in the ’80s, “Last Vegas” will entertain just about any audience thanks to the creative minds who made this movie a reality.