I very much like all of the aging dudes who star in Last Vegas. This rogues gallery is comprised of Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline.
I do not much like the movie they co-star in. As a comedy romp, Last Vegas is fizzy soda compared to the hard-core, high-octane hijinks of the original instalment of The Hangover trilogy. Call it Hangover Lite -- no calories, but it does induce a splitting headache.
After a prologue showing the four main characters as teenagers surviving the mean streets of Brooklyn in the late 1950s, Last Vegas tells the story of four lifelong friends (and sometimes enemies) who re-unite for the first time in years.
The occasion is a bachelor party in Las Vegas in the here-and-now. The Douglas character is about to get married, on a morbid impulse, to a woman half his age. He does not really love her but he is feeling mortal, thanks to the ravages of age. He proposes to her from a church podium while giving a eulogy at a funeral.
All the dudes are supposed to be in their 60s (although two, De Niro and Freeman, are already in their 70s). The plot twist is that the Douglas and De Niro characters are locked in a bitter feud. Freeman and Kline have to trick him into the trip to Vegas.
Key support players introduced in the Vegas sequences include Mary Steenburgen (another lovable veteran), Jerry Ferrara (youthful comic relief) and Romany Malco (who looks after the dudes in Vegas).
Last Vegas is directed by Jon Turteltaub (who is known for the National Treasure series) and written by Dan Fogelman (who collaborated on the screenplays for the animations Cars, Bolt and Tangled). That sounds promising enough. But the results are flat. Last Vegas is too predictable, not funny enough and wildly uneven in tone because it wants to be poignant as well as hilarious. It is not.
That said, as a lightweight time-waster, Last Vegas will likely please some other people who also love the aging dudes. And people who want to see old farts giving the gears to young bucks while flirting with hot babes. No harm in that, but it is not enough to pull this movie together. These guys do not quality as a new millennium Rat Pack and will not rival Frank Sinatra's Vegas gang.
In this vein, what the hell is up with De Niro? Once celebrated as the actor of his generation, De Niro keeps taking roles in goofball comedies. He does the same damned thing every time. He shuffles, he snorts, he barks, he plays mean but he always has a heart-of-gold. This technique has only worked well twice recently. One time in Silver Linings Playbook, because he had more substance to work with. He did create a poignant subtext for the heartfelt comedy. The second time was in The Family, because he self-mocked his career playing a Mafioso who hiding in France as part of the U.S. witness protection program.
None of what he showed in those two movies is evident in Last Vegas.Follow @JamShowbiz