Review: 'Last Vegas'

(Three stars)

Four iconic Hollywood actors share the spotlight and shine in this light-hearted buddy chuckler.

At first glance, "Last Vegas" seems a bit like "The Hangover" for the 60-and-over crowd (minus the raunch). But the class-act cast and a solid script from screenwriter Dan Fogelman ("Crazy, Stupid, Love.") keep the film fresh, funny and thoroughly entertaining.

The story follows four childhood friends as they reunite in Las Vegas for the wedding of one of their own. Billy (Michael Douglas) is a wealthy charmer set to marry a woman more than 30 years his junior. Sam (Kevin Kline, in top form) is a Florida retiree struggling to rediscover the passion in his 40-year marriage. Air Force vet Archie (Morgan Freeman) has grown weary of his son's cautious care. And tough guy Paddy (Robert De Niro) has rarely left the apartment -- or the comfort of his bathrobe -- since the death of his wife. A Vegas bachelor party is exactly what this quartet needs.

While Sam (given permission to be promiscuous) and Archie are eager to break the age barrier and rage like teenagers, Billy and Paddy have unresolved issues that need addressing before they can let loose. Those issues grow more complex with the introduction of sultry lounge singer Diana (Mary Steenburgen). A smart-mouth concierge (Romany Malco of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin") and dim-bulb frat boy (Jerry Ferrara of HBO's "Entourage") help energize the affair.

There is something special about watching these four accomplished actors unite on screen. Kline has the strongest comedic background and it shows, as his delivery and dialogue spark the most laughs. The dynamic between Archie and Sam (and, accordingly, between Freeman and Kline) is especially rich. Douglas and De Niro are cast in roles they could virtually sleepwalk through, but both refuse to phone it in. Douglas in particular impresses during a poignant scene that has his character coming to terms with his age and how quickly the years have passed.

"Last Vegas" has its share of heavy-handed sentimentality and predictable scenarios. The soundtrack is serviceable but not particularly memorable, and the cascade of age-related jokes gets a little, well, old. But it is clear the cast-mates are having fun, and the viewer can't help but to have fun along with them.

Director Jon Turteltaub ("While You Were Sleeping") deserves credit for keeping the atmosphere loose and playful. At a certain point -- and it happens early on -- we readily excuse cliche and gratuitous tear-jerking for the sake of a good time. And, like the central characters themselves, we're not quite ready for it all to end.

Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language. One hour, 30 minutes.


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