Sometimes a movie just isn’t very good. The plot is nonexistent, the jokes are corny and the emotional beats are cliché. Such is the case with “Last Vegas,” and yet it actually manages to be an entertaining movie thanks to the sheer will of the talented and likable cast.
Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline play four life-long friends reuniting for a weekend of revelry in Las Vegas.
With a combined 900 years of acting experience, these guys use every trick in the book to bring life to their stock, underwritten characters that were built to fit the public persona each actor has cultivated over his respective career.
Each also comes complete with his own life crisis that will be nicely resolved over the course of an hour and a half.
Douglas plays Billy, the never-married ladies’ man whose impending nuptials to a woman half his age is basically a cry for help and serves to prompt the Vegas trip.
De Niro plays Paddy, the crotchety mook who recently lost his wife and has unresolved issues with Billy.
Freeman plays Archie, the wise sage of the group who has to deal with his adult son (Michael Ealy) treating him like an invalid.
Kline plays Sam, the quick-tongued nerd who is wasting away in Florida, who gets a free pass from his wife for the weekend with hopes it will rekindle the romantic spark in their marriage.
Stirring the pot is the eternally delightful Mary Steenburgen, who plays Diana, a lounge singer who catches the eye of both Billy and Paddy.
Not a whole lot happens in this movie. There are several scenes of hijinks: The guys judge a bikini contest! The guys go dancing at a club! The guys throw a wild party! But mostly it’s all just spinning the tires until we get to our warm and fuzzy destination.
There are also a lot of old jokes and I mean a lot of old jokes. It’s like someone broke into Don Rickles file cabinet and emptied the folder labeled “old people.”
But by packing this movie with consummate professionals they all manage to find something to do as they drag each scene kicking and screaming to the point that it all goes down bracingly smooth, like a Red Bull vodka.
You know when people say an actor is so good they would pay to see him read out of a phone book? “Last Vegas” is basically giving you that opportunity. Even though the script is slightly more compelling than the Yellow Pages, this cast has the chops to somehow turn it all into something that is actually watchable.
And, if you’ll indulge me, I would like to add just one personal plea. Kevin Kline, come back to us. You’ve served your time in movie jail for “Wild Wild West” and I know you enjoy stage acting and making babies with Phoebe Cates (well done there), but movies still need you. And no, I’m not talking about taking a supporting role every couple of years as a favor to somebody, but a real honest-to-goodness starring turn.
“Last Vegas” is a start, but come on back. Comedy, drama, whatever; if Harrison Ford is still working, you should be too.
Honestly, if all we get out of “Last Vegas” is a career resurgence from Kline, then it is a lock for the most worthwhile mediocre movie of the year.
“Last Vegas” is rated PG-13 on appeal for sexual content and language.