Douglas, De Niro, Freeman, Kline – four names synonymous with Hollywood and four of the very best movie actors of all time. As soon as I saw the poster for Last Vegas I wanted to see it. I knew it would be fun, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The plot of the movie is simple – four best friends in their late sixties – Billy, Paddy, Sam, and Archie – decide to have a bachelor party in Las Vegas for Billy; the last of them to get married. They have lots of crazy times on their trip, but end up learning important lessons by the end. But the plot is thicker than this simplistic summary – the four characters each symbolise somebody we each can relate to – or at least in part. They all have complicated histories linking back to when they were young childhood friends in a ‘gang’ at high school. Whether each of them has gone on to success or mediocrity, whether each of them is in good health or not and whether they have lived fruitful social lives or relatively mundane lives, they all still support each other and are intrinsically linked – despite their differences.
Away from this, the film is a brilliant comedy, with jokes from pillar to post. Despite their age, these veteran actors get stuck in with physical comedy and hilarious one liners which are enjoyable for both older and younger viewers. Although the plot is highly unbelievable towards the end of the movie (with celebrity filled parties, antics and the appeal of sex with younger women) there are moments of brilliance in all of the madness. The one scene that strikes a particular chord for me, is when Kevin Kline’s character Sam almost sleeps with a younger woman, with permission previously given by his wife. But he backs out, stating the fact that his wife is his sounding board, if he ever does something cool in his life, the first person he tells is his wife. An interesting moment to reflect on, as most of us hope to have someone in our lives to share our thoughts and achievements with – whether this is a friend, a lover or a family member.
The film is funny and heartfelt, has a great cast and production team, with lots of money thrown at it. But by the end of the film you feel that however much people dream of the Vegas life, the ultimate destination for wild parties, gambling and all things hedonistic, no-one truly wants it. We may kid ourselves in our youth, but most people want to settle down and be happy and live a fruitful life. In this film you see four old-men who have been resigned to boring lifestyles by their commitments to other people. They want to break free and have fun while they still have time left. Perhaps society can learn the lesson one day, that throwing our loved ones in a home is not the answer.
Sadly, this film has been berated by most major critics and has mixed reviews with a 47% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It is a shame, because Last Vegas has some great moments. It is a really enjoyable piece of cinema that had me giggling, pondering, smiling, frowning and journeying through the entire emotional spectrum. Isn’t that what cinema is about?
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