Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — I only hope that the day I cross the threshold of my youth into the senior years of life that most of my hilarity is still based on snarky humor instead of progressive brain decay. Today’s film features a group of actors that for the most part continue to find success in their later years and bring a kind of chemistry that brings to mind similar successes like “Grumpy Old Men.”
One of the criticisms for the film so far is that it was like a milder, geriatric “Hangover” and while there are certainly similarities, it does enough on its own to be more than just a shameless copy. In fact, I would attribute this kind of statement to instead be a compliment as I’ll likely be much more forgiving when the laughs lean more toward the witty side of things instead of going the easy route with only low brow. In the end, I’m much more likely to give a second viewing to “Last Vegas” later on as its antics seemed like something relatable as well as entertaining.
Once one gets past the short and probably better skipped intro where our four main characters Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (Robert De Niro), Sam (Kevin Kline), and Archie (Morgan Freeman) all have a best friends stand by me moment as young kids stealing a bottle of liquor, we jump way ahead to modern day. Each of the pals seems to be stuck in some sort of late life crisis, be it Archie’s overly protective son, Paddy’s decent into self-pity after the death of his wife, Sam’s lack of spark in his own life and Billy’s inability to hold a relationship with anyone older than a girl that might as well be his grandchild.
Attempting bring the old gang back together to celebrate his robbing of the cradle at the altar, Billy puts together plans for a wild Las Vegas bachelor party weekend/wedding which they all eventually agree to, even if it opens old relationship wounds between Paddy and Billy. Attempting to be as hip as they were in their youth, much of the flick is one classic burst of laughter after another as they seem to either win big or fail miserably, that is until both Billy and Paddy become smitten with a lounge singer named Diana (Mary Steenburgen, who will for me always be Miss Clara from “Back to the Future III”). Add to the mix just enough romance along with mending of old and the result is something I’d recommend at least to those who are already fans of the main four actors.
Elaborating on a point made earlier, some of the best moments throughout are when what could be raunchy is given real meaning like when the characters take the higher road, especially Sam trying to rekindle his own romantic drive. Though there are directly obvious things, there is a bit more subtlety to the punch lines even when it is as simple as the group of old guys being overly generous judging a bikini contest.
As saying anything else would spoil what little I haven’t given away already, the verdict for this flick is a wisecracking three out of five Jackpots.
Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.