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Peter Travers: ‘Last Vegas’ Will Make You Groan as Much as Howl at the Jokes

Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline have a ball acting their age

Peter Travers Nov 22, 2013
(from left) Kevin Kline, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Michael Douglas in 'Last Vegas'. Photo: Chuck Zlotnick/CBS Films

(from left) Kevin Kline, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Michael Douglas in ‘Last Vegas’. Photo: Chuck Zlotnick/CBS Films

[easyreview cat1title = “Last Vegas” cat1rating = 2.5]

Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Kevin Kline

Directed by Jon Turteltaub

Before this movie can laugh at itself, which Last Vegas (about four seniors hitting Vegas for the bachelor party of one of their own) does frequently and affably, it must cope with getting jabbed with gag titles ”“ The Hangover for Geezers, AARP’s Animal House, Grumpy Old Oscar Winners. The implication isn’t wrong, exactly. It’s just that when you hire Michael Douglas, 69, Robert De Niro, 70, Morgan Freeman, 76, and Kevin Kline, 66, to deliver jokes about hemorrhoids, Lipitor and Viagra, you have the home-court advantage. Plus, the jokes are older than they are. Director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) has the good sense to just let the guys rip. If these old pros can’t exactly make a silk purse out of Dan Fogelman’s sow’s ear of a script, they can sure have fun trying.

The plot involves a quartet of Brooklyn hell-raisers, known as the “Flatbush Four” in their youth, who are at risk of going gentle into that good night. All except Billy (Douglas), a skirt-chasing Malibu lawyer who is about to marry a woman half his age, and wants his pals to stand witness. Archie (Freeman), living with his son in New Jersey, can barely stand since his stroke. Paddy (De Niro) hardly leaves his apartment since his wife died. And Sam (Kline) has reluctantly joined his wife in a Florida retirement community.

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Something’s gotta give. And it does. The ever-luminous Mary Steenburgen plays Diana, a lounge singer who changes the guys in subtle ways that deepen their friendship, which comes across as genuine amid all the SinCity glitz. The entire cast, from Jerry Ferrara as a frat boy on the loose to the dynamite Polly Craig as an aquaaerobics instructor, comes up aces. But special kudos to Freeman, who kills it on the dance floor and later while drunk off  his ass on vodka and Red Bull. You’ll groan as much as howl at the jokes, but the veteran stars have a ball acting their age. Even when all else fails them, they’re good company.