Kevin Kline, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Michael Douglas play four old guys travelling to Vegas for a bachelor party which ultimately results in being a quest to feel youthful and alive. Four Oscar winners, forty Viagra jokes, four hundred reasons why this could never work. My review of Last Vegas after the jump.
Billy (Douglas) has just proposed to his girlfriend, his girlfriend who is yet to hit thirty. Billy, who as the film endlessly implies, is on course to hit 1000 (So in Hollywood terms, he’s over 60), and now that he’s getting married he wants his three best buddies, Sam (Kline), Archie (Freeman) and Paddy (De Niro) to be there. Sam and Archie propose a bachelor party in Vegas, however Paddy wants nothing to do with Billy, as a recent incident has put a serious dent in their otherwise long-lasting friendship. Through some harmless deception on both Sam and Archie’s part, along with a reminder of his introverted and anti-social state of being, Paddy finally agrees to tag along and with that follows a guys only Las Vegas bachelor party weekend that sets to remind them all of their lives, relationships, long-withstanding friendship and age. Hilarity is set to ensue.
The marketing campaign for Last Vegas runs with the notion that four Oscar-winning actors of the highest esteem go wild and party with the punch line being that “they’re…you know, over 60 so they’re old”. The film stands to look like a one joke premise being that old guys will stutter and remain flabbergasted whilst young people parade around them partying. Is the film this? No, not completely. These four actors are all convincing and incredibly funny, equipped with precise timing to each line no matter how cheese laden it may sound and its Last Vegas‘ saving grace.
Director Jon Turteltaub (Instinct, Cool Runnings) will be accused of merely pointing and shooting with his direction; there are no fancy camera angles and no heart wrenching moments for people to think otherwise. However, it’s not as simplistic as you may think. With the exception of endless musical cues, he allows these guys and their performances to dominate each frame, giving them as much time as they need. None of their efforts ever feel rushed and scenes work better than they should because of the adequate time spent on each take and interaction. Screenwriter Dan Fogelman (The Guilt Trip) constructs a simple narrative, embodying almost all recognisable clichés but in doing so, you’re given more to work with in terms of characters. This is a film aimed to pull you in with its big names and their interesting characters, not its story.
With everything said and all the praise given to the four leads and attention given to each character, Last Vegas, along with most Hollywood films of its ilk absolutely screws up one thing, its female characters. I have a friend who always, after every review looks to me and says “Again with the female characters!”. You could question how one would complain as the film is clearly about a guy’s bachelor party, but in doing so, I’d then have to dismiss every film currently in release. If you’re going to have female characters in a film, do not merely have them exist as a plot device. It feels like almost everything released from Hollywood is about old white men.. (Hollywood is not only to blame, the best of foreign cinema has forgotten women an astounding number of times as well). What is so scary about defying some odds and giving women a say, or even a joke or a character trait that exists away from the story or the male leads? Give us something. This isn’t even a feminist speaking, consider it one who is sick of seeing the characters in the same damn film over and over.
The fallacy that is “the guy’s movie” is one that holds up just as much as the idea that old white dudes are the only ones who can have fun and run a picture. Last Vegas is not a terrible film, it’s even a charming one at times due to its leads and their greatest of efforts and talent. But when not a single female character of real substance and charm can be introduced to the proceedings, then one has to question just how much Last Vegas really accomplishes. This isn’t an attempt to reinvent the wheel. Yet.
By Chris Elena
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Writer: Dan Fogelman
Starring: Mary Steenburgen, Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Roger Bart.
Runtime: 106 minutes
Release date: Australa: February 6 2014