‘Last Vegas’ is ‘Hangover’ with heart — and old guys

By Roger Moore
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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(From left) Kevin Kline (as Sam Harris), Morgan Freeman (as Archie Clayton), Robert De Niro (as Paddy Connors), and Michael Douglas (as Billy Gherson) star in Last Vegas. (Chuck Zlotnick/CBS FIlms)
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Paddy is a widower who spends his lonely days watching TV in his bathrobe.

Sam can barely summon the energy to wisecrack about the aged wrecks who share the pool in his jazzercise for seniors class.

Archie has a post-stroke regimen of pills and a son who nags him to take it easy “at your age.”

And Billy wears the decades of too-much California tanning and the stress of keeping up with a fiancee half his age.

Yeah, you’ll want to PARTY with these guys. Especially after you learn that they’re played by Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman and Michael Douglas, respectively. Especially after you learn that they’re about to cut loose at a bachelor party.

Last Vegas is an on-the-nose, on-the-money Grumpy Old Men With Hangovers set in Sin City. It’s a comedy that, thanks to its Oscar-studded cast, leans more toward the sentimental than the sinful. So there’s no tiger, no Mr. Chow; the Hangover debauchery is more mild than wild. And instead of crazed encounters with Mike Tyson, our group, friends since childhood, cut loose with a Cirque du Soleil troupe.

Back in their doo wop music past, they were the “Flatbush Four,” pals who stuck together against bullies, swiped booze and pined for the same girl. Now pushing 70, they’re reunited when Malibu Billy (Douglas) finally ties the knot.

Each has a hurdle to clear before making the trek to their bachelor gathering. Sam’s wife (Joanna Gleason) gifts him a condom and suggests he (Kline) get busy, just to get his game back. Archie (Freeman) has to dodge his son (Michael Ealy) and sneak out. And Archie and Sam both have to trick Paddy (De Niro), who bears some ancient grudge against Billy.

They do what people do in Vegas — play blackjack, do a little dance, fall in love with a lounge singer (Mary Steenburgen), crack jokes.

Oh, and get down tonight.

There are great pleasures in being in the company of seasoned pros who know how to sell a punch line. “How old is your bride, Billy?”

“She’s almost 32.”

“I’ve got a hemorrhoid that’s almost 32.”

Or “You look good.”

“You LIE good.”

Freeman sings a little and dances a little. An ornery De Niro cracks wise and scowls. Kline riffs and Douglas plays the straight man with a wistful (yeah, he knows the bride’s too young) charm.

And Steenburgen positively beams. After years of playing moms and straight-laced wives, she croons a few standards in the Vegas vein and holds her own with the big boys.

Turteltaub (National Treasure) captures the garish, cleavage-friendly setting, sets up the senior-citizen sight gags with skill and mostly just lets his high-mileage cast score laughs and pass along tidbits of wisdom to assorted sinning youngsters in between sentimental reveries.

Last Vegas isn’t “out there” in a Hangover sense. It’s comical comfort food, with actors doing the sorts of things they’ve done for decades. But even if this is the safest Vegas romp of them all, this cast never lets us forget that we’re in very good hands.


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