Last Vegas

Last Vegas is the sort of movie that’s easy and pretty darn cheap to make, the largest cost being the hiring of a posse of big name audience-pullers. This type of film pulls in audiences and is commonly detested by critics.  Some viewers will accept it for what it is and go with the flow, though sadly not this one.

Ingredients: four much-loved old-timers (such as Michael DouglasMorgan FreemanBob de Niro and Kevin Kline, for example), veterans of the big screen. Get them well oiled and let them have a big laugh. Film them having a hoot around Vegas (or wherever) and doing the odd bit of acting here and there. Top and tail it, add a sprinkling of beautiful women then bingo!

Lazy cinema but the producers rub their hands with glee as the money rolls in.   Just occasionally these epics have a halfway decent script and plot, but most usually if you’ve seen the preview you’ve seen everything worth seeing. 105 seconds out of 105 minutes is not a good ratio but that’s often all you can expect.

So then, once you’ve assembled your big names, what can de Niro, Freeman, Kline and Douglas make of what is essentially a star vehicle?  Not as much as you might hope, though just about enough to fill the preview and make it sound funny.

If that is the sprat to catch a mackerel, don’t be fooled.  Jon Turteltaub‘s movie collects together in one place the biggest collection of cinematic clichés you’ve ever seen.  I mean it’s crammed, wall to wall, floor to ceiling.  There’s nothing that could remotely pass for original or worthwhile content, and nor is it anything like as entertaining as the trailer would have you believe.

Nor is there much in what passes for a plot.  Douglas’s 70 year old rich fake is getting married to a 32-year old girlfriend, whom he does not love but then he is in denial.  He invites his doddery old mates from around the US to Vegas for the bachelor party. Old scores notwithstanding, they all turn up and lose 50 years in the process, behaving in an infantile fashion but enjoying every second.

How the Vegas gaming industry must love this movie, divorced from reality and living on cloud 9 as it is.  The difference is that good things happen to these guys, unlike 99.9998% of those who go gaming in Vegas. Freeman’s Archie seems to gain $87k on the blackjack tables in no time flat, do obviously it must be true.

But I digress. Having barely arrived they meet Mary Steenburgen‘s mature but attractive cabaret singer and at least two, Douglas and de Niro, fall for her, and she apparently for them. But Douglas and de Niro have an old enmity over a woman that the latter married and the former loved, and surprise surprise it happens all over again. Didn’t see that one coming.

Anyway, various subplots are used as padding, not to mention many shiny and slim women gratuitously dressed on bikinis and dancing with these four 70-year old arthritic grumps at the big party encompassing every woman and eccentric in Vegas – and that’s a lot!   That it is ludicrous is obvious when it transpires that one beautiful lady of around 18 is gagging to bed Kline’s character, who has been given licence to fornicate by his wife of 40 years, but guess what, turns out at the last moment that he’s too loyal. Well blow me down.

As I say, the movie bears no relation to reality so it makes no odds how ludicrous or predictable all this is. And trust me here, it really truly is ludicrous. No, more than that – it’s sexist, exploitative entertainment, reminiscent of the nasty days of knowingly smug, self-congratulatory derivative star vehicles from the 60s and 70s, like the original Oceans 11 and its remakes. This version, sold off the back of four well-paid stars and a few funny lines, all of which appear in the trailer, lacks even the Oceans heist motive and a consistently dazzling script.

And while Douglas and Kline may have an excuse, Freeman and de Niro are much better than this.  Let’s face it, Bob has been on autopilot for a number of years now, though Morgan has made great films.  This outing may fund their next property in the Bahamas, but both could and should be making more challenging movies to demonstrate the excellence of their acting prowess.  Appearing in Last Vegas is lazy and a waste of their prodigious talents.

In short, I can think of no good reason why you should pay good money to see Last Vegas, particularly when you can see all of the best bits without paying a penny. There, I’ve saved you ten quid! Spend it wisely, or preferably send it to me – I’ll put it to far better use by reviewing movies you really should be watching instead!

Let the moral of the tale be this: never get sucked in by the trailer.  Quality of content over flashy highlights every time.  Oh, and having been to Vegas myself, I can assure you that while the place is undoubtedly packed with very artificial people I most certainly did not get invited to any parties like that.  How the other half live, eh?

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