When I dated Bobby De Niro in 1975, he was a spry sex symbol — tense, silent and about to spring. Today at 70 he is even more sexy. Why? Because he is more comfortable in his skin. He plays parts in which he makes fun of himself and doesn’t miss a beat. He’s still agile, but now relaxed – on screen. While in “Last Vegas” he plays a character filled with angst, you get to see his transformation when he finally settles an old score with a chum. Bobby glows in this finale, as does the entire cast of Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline.
This Golden Years gang takes off for Vegas to celebrate the wedding of its only single member, Billy (Douglas). Paddy (De Niro), Archie (Freeman) and Sam (Kline) are retired and on the verge of packing it in but decide to give Billy a bachelor party. While the cast of four megastars has Oscar reverberations, this film would be a clone of “The Hangover” without its clever script packed with crisp pistol whippin’ dialogue written by Dan Fogelman and the agile direction by Jon Turteltaub.
Fogelman (“The Guilt Trip”) has written a celebration of seniors not just for seniors that has start to finish laughs. Genuine heartfelt laughs.
The plot is thin, but you won’t really care. Sure, we have the Medicare and Viagra gags, but the comedic chops these guys display by working off of each other like an Oscar-worthy improvisational volley without a pause makes the script’s flaws forgivable.
In the film, Billy is engaged to a 32-year-old cutie Lisa (Bre Blair), though he is coming up on 70. Wealthy and a playboy extraordinaire, he arrives in Vegas and accidentally hears a 60-something (Mary Steenburgen) singing in a small, almost empty cocktail lounge. Diana provides the sensuality and independent spirit needed to make an impression on Billy. The other bachelors also are attracted to Diana, but it’s Billy and Paddy who spar for her attention.
Steenburgen is splendid, singing beautifully in a way that shows her serenity and inner peace. “Last Vegas” should spawn a sequel of four women going off to Paris for a bachelorette party. Let’s give the girls a movie of their own like this one!
Unfortunately, with the exception of Diana and Sam’s wife, Miriam (Joanna Gleason), women are just objects here, as Vegas is hardly the city known for liberated women. Alas Steenburgen’s character is a welcome breath of feminism.
The script falls short when these swinging geriatrics enter a disco after Freeman wins $100,000 at blackjack, and there’s not much forward plot movement or pizzazz and the dialogue turns to boring. But it quickly picks up when our boys judge a beauty contest (sure we’ve seen this before, but not with this gang) and when Paddy and Billy lock testosterone over Diana.
Also in the disco, youthful Dean (Jerry Ferrara) surfaces — but he is merely a vehicle to supply women to the boys for the final party they will throw and to illustrate that while our boys are close to 70, they have more sex appeal in their pinkies than Dean with his adolescent macho view of women.
Dean, in fact, doesn’t even know how to talk to a woman he fancies and its up to Archie, Mr. Smoothie, to give him clues. Watching Freeman dance and gyrate those hips is one of the highlights of the filmIt’s scenes like this that keep you smiling and rooting for this group facing the Pearlie Gates on their terms. Smiling as they enter. No self-pity here.
Douglas looks swell for his age. Freeman doesn’t seem to age at all. De Niro still has sex appeal at his age. Kline becomes sexier as the film progresses — his disheveled white locks give him an elder statesman allure. All prove that when one reaches 60 or 70, life is over.
These handsome men are still going strong and showing us how to laugh at it all.