Eventually, everyone in the living world will have forgotten Last Vegas. A 2013 comedy flick led by four ageing stars needing to bank a quick check to pay off whatever hip replacement, alimony settlement or elephant’s foot walking cane holder is needed that week. All that will remain are whispers of such a film existing, one that can feature incredible, Oscar-winning talents shuffling around the gambling capital of the world. Wrinkled faces throw a bachelor party and at their tender age, “party” is closer to a round of scrabble and some Benadryl before walking around the small gardens of Vegas. What cannot be expected from this ensemble under the watchful eyes of director Jon Turteltaub, is quality.
Audiences have gotten their money’s worth with these performers in the past. Robert De Niro, Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman and Michael Douglas have more than paid their dues. Their self-indulgence and keen desire to simply have a holiday in Vegas and make a film around that are bold and audiences should respect it not just because of the decades of talent shared between the four, but also because it’s a quality move. Get a studio to fund your trip to the gambling ring, where the hounds pour money into the void. Beautiful stuff. A shame Turteltaub never captures that degeneracy and instead goes down the democratic route of not trying to step on any toes. Each leading man has his moment, as does supporting performer Mary Steenburgen, whose role here is to eventually fall for the single lad.
Not her finest hour, although it is a role designed to at least give Steenburgen the benefit of the doubt. She has solid moments. The whole cast does. Why audiences would pay to see the geriatric ensemble is beyond the pale, though. Name value carries weight, but it offers nothing to Last Vegas. It is the same for Going in Style, another Freeman vehicle that would release years later, dependent on a cast of old and fusty gentlemen taking on a young man’s game. Is Vegas even the young man’s game? What is the obsession Hollywood has for the gambling arena? A deal has been struck, perhaps. Either way, Last Vegas isn’t exactly going to go all in. There are no moments of definitive or inspired work, no detail too scarce or rare to captivate an unknowing audience. Even those that have managed to live their lives without figuring out the illustrious careers of the four men at the heart of this will have little trouble in figuring out what purpose this project serves.
Vanity is not it. Money? Maybe. It’d be a less convincing conclusion had Last Vegas made less than $100 million, yet here we are. Grey hair, white teeth and a glittering cast, Last Vegas is as energetic as the slowpokes at the forefront. Douglas’ Billy Gerson is not quite the Casanova, proposing at a funeral to a woman half his age. Most of the film is spent in bars or taking cheap pops at ageism and its defiant construct in Hollywood. Old men going after young women. It’s as bad as it sounds, and a lot of Last Vegas will be defended under the “well, these are legends of the business,” defence. That is not a defence that will get any actor far in the world of Hollywood. It’ll barely get them to Vegas.