Last Vegas - DVD Review

'De Niro, Douglas, Freeman and Kline consistently make a welcome, solid and undeniably entertaining group'

With four leads whose ages at the time of writing range from 66 to 77 years old, it’s wise to go into Jon Turteltaub’s latest expecting a fairly hefty helping of humour about growing old. It’s certainly something which Last Vegas doesn’t shy away from: much jesting is to be found over long-time bachelor Billy’s (Michael Douglas) fiancĂ©e being less than half his age, as well as gags about struggling with modern technology and a recurring joke about viagra. However, whilst Dan Fogelman’s script regularly takes opportunities for comedy derived from being elderly, it thankfully manages to fall short of milking the idea completely dry.

Turteltaub and Fogelman also manage for the most part to keep this considerably more high brow than the likes of The Hangover, a film which has clearly been a jumping-off point for Last Vegas’ bachelor weekend premise. In another movie, a scene involving Billy, Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline) trying out a nightclub might have descended into seedy and uncomfortable attempts at sexualised laughs; instead Turteltaub firmly keeps matters within much safer climes, making his film feel more wholesome for it. Only once or twice does the director genuinely lose his way: a scene involving the central four judging a twenty-somethings bikini contest is both entirely cringeworthy and decidedly out of place, and thankfully doesn’t last too long.

That’s not to say that Fogelman’s screenplay is wholly successful elsewhere. This is for the most part gentle and predictable stuff offering very little that will surprise. Paddy (Robert De Niro), beginning the film still grieving for his wife a year after her death, learns a thing or two about moving on. A subplot involving Archie and his overprotective son is resolved remarkably quickly and easily. And as soon as the group meet lounge singer Diana (Mary Steenburgen) shortly after arriving in Vegas, Turteltaub makes it pretty obvious how things are likely to end up between her and one of the foursome.

But in spite of its predictability and safeness, the presence of four big names in the lead roles makes Last Vegas an endearing watch. Whilst you might find yourself every now and again wishing that the actors here would instead make a film that stretched them a little (nothing here even threatens to), De Niro, Douglas, Freeman and Kline consistently make a welcome, solid and undeniably entertaining group. Kline in particular is as comically gifted as ever, moulding Sam into a charming and harmless smooth talker who, in the hands of a lesser actor, could easily have transformed into a dirty old man. With Steenburgen providing a pleasing female counterbalance, the cast is likely to win you over enough to overlook many of Last Vegas’ less inspired moments.

Last Vegas is released on UK Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 9th June 2014.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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