wogma rating: The keen should rent; else TV/online (?)
Men will be boys will be men. Will be boys. No matter how old a man gets, he's never old enough to have a spot of fun, even if life catches up with him sometimes. In Jon Turteltaub's Last Vegas, four 'boys' in their late sixties decide to get together and have some fun in Las Vegas, because, obviously, the last of them is about to get hitched.
If The Hangover didn't end at the trilogy and went on and on and on, then in a few decades, you'd end up with Last Vegas; it is as easy a film to dismiss as it is to warm up to. What keeps it going is some honest camaraderie between the film's four lead characters, and some clean humour that never transgresses into 'haha' territory. (By clean, I don't mean sexually, because there's a lot of 'guy' humour, sexual innuendo and the likes, in the film. But clean in just the way that there seems to be no malintent in the way the film attempts to charm its audience.)
Archie, Paddy, Sam and Billy have been friends for 60 years now, and they still share the same bond as they had as teenagers, even if some of them have had their ups and downs along the way. All said and done, they stand up for each other when the time comes.
Each has their own issues in life, be it physically or emotionally. And this trip is, in a way, cathartic for them. Each of them enters as a different person, and for better or for worse, leaves a different man - and that's pretty much what the film is supposed to symbolize for each character - a snapshot of their own personal journeys with their best friends for company.
Treated with a continuous stream of humour that has largely to do with their ages, the film doesn't have to try too hard to make you smile. The dialogue is never downright hilarious, often relying on just goody charm more than anything else. That, the veteran actors and their respective characters' quirks are enough to ensure that the film succeeds in being the frothy, breezy watch that it is meant to be. There are the occasional leaps of faith that the film expects you to take, but you don't mind them because it is all meant in good fun.
The writing is nearly always predictable, and Turteltaub's direction isn't much more than functional. This is where the four veterans come in to save the day. Make no mistake, none of them is particularly outstanding in their roles. Just that these are men who've been doing this for years. The material doesn't challenge them one bit, and their natural talent and timing does exactly what is required to make it work.
Kevin Kline steals the show as the adorable Sam, who has taken 'permission' from his wife for some hanky panky, if he is so lucky. Michael Douglas plays Billy, who is, well, pretty much Michael Douglas; suave, sexy rich bloke who's marrying a woman half his age.
Two of my absolute all-time favourite actors - Morgan Freeman and Robert De Niro - seem to have made it their lives' mission to pick films and characters that aren't worthy of them. Last Vegas joins that list, but not before they each have at least a couple of scenes that genuinely make you smile, just because it is them.
The boys ensure that Last Vegas is watchable, and more so because it has become much easier to accept Hollywood mediocrity as long as it isn't a big franchise film. Last Vegas isn't an absolute must watch, but watching four grown boys have a bit of fun isn't particularly a bad way to spend a couple of hours either.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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