Thursday, January 23, 2014

Last Vegas

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Last Vegas?  It's suppose to be LAS--oh, I just got it.

Last Vegas – 2 out of 5

It’s been some time since I’ve spent a significant amount of time in Las Vegas but my time has never been as eventful as the movies make it out to be. There’s no big breasted beautiful woman in bikinis giving me a wink and a smile, no huge jackpot on my first pull of a slot machine crank, no blackout bender that results in hilarity with my two friends, no hanging out with George Clooney and Brad Pitt for heist planning, and, the worst, no witnessing dudes dressed like Elvis robbing a casino. Nope, my last time in Vegas was just me sitting at a quarter slot machine, listening to music on my iPod and slowly smoking a cigar as I watched my credits jump up and down on the digital display. Maybe things will be a little more exciting when I head there in my golden years…

Too bad Morgan Freeman will have passed on and can't hang out with me
in Vegas during those years.

Last Vegas tells the tale about four life long friends; Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (Robert De Niro), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline). Billy, having a crisis of age, decides he’s going to marry his much younger girlfriend and decides to have a bachelor party with his buddies in Las Vegas. There, they gamble with their pensions, Sam is given a free pass to cheat on his wife, Billy and Paddy must overcome some animosities that have started to form in their friendship and Billy meets an woman closer to his age (Mary Steenbergen) that makes him have second thoughts about the marriage. While all this is going on, they’re all trying to re-ignite their youth and party with the very much younger crowd of Sin City.

Douglas, seen here looking like he's seconds away from ripping a person's
throat out.

As you can tell from my score, I didn’t enjoy this movie that much. However, there’s actually a lot this movie does well and only two real elements that hurt my ability to get into the film and have fun with it. Okay, the story isn’t really that spectacular but it really isn’t horrible either. For what the film is trying to achieve, the story works and it ends up resulting in some truly amusing moments. A lot of the gags in the film are pretty decent even though they are mostly predictable, pretty tame, and are often just jokes about being old. Unlike other films that tell the story of older people unable to accept their age or accept the age they are currently living in, this movie isn’t just a non-stop recital of jokes and punchlines about how “old people just don’t understand young people.” Yes, there are a lot of jokes about broken hips, limp penises and high blood pressure but they were pretty lighthearted and would often get a chuckle out of me. Not like I’ve seen in other films.

De Niro, seen here trying to become one with the chair he's sitting in.

However, the strongest aspect of this movie is the central cast. Douglas, De Niro, Freeman and Kline are all fantastic in their roles and they all have real chemistry together and really look like they are old friends reuniting for some nights of debauchery and fun in the party capital of America. There was an undeniable charm to each and every one of these actors as they interacted with each other and it really just helped the movie move along with its thin story and obvious jokes.

Kline, seen here looking shocked that I've continued this trend of filling each
picture with a caption stating with the name of the actor and saying what they are
shown doing (or at least look like what they are doing).

With the guys being both amusing and easily likable, and a story that works for what it’s trying to achieve, Last Vegas could have easily been an average movie that doesn’t wholly satisfy but doesn’t totally suck either. However, there were two elements that made me end up not getting to that middle-of-the-road point. 

"Hey, we're the lounge singers you ordered.  We specialize in covers of Cannibal Corpse."

While I stated that even though the jokes are very predictable, they were good enough (and ridiculously simplistic enough) to illicit some sounds of humor from my vocal chords…but only in the first half of the film. During the final half (and more during the last act), the film gets very cheesy and levels up several kinds of corny. The predictable jokes suddenly become less predictable and barely become jokes as the film shoe-horns in heavy amounts of drama that, until that point, was slowly trickling in at a decent pace. In fact, it felt like the production forgot to keep this part of the film going during a montage and the bachelor party sequence and decided to quickly insert back in rapid fire. In a matter of moments, plot lines about Sam’s pass to sleep around, Archie’s side-story about his overprotective son and Billy and Paddy’s animosity (along with Billy’s second thoughts about the wedding) come into play and are resolved in increasingly mundane and cornballing ways. It really made for a sudden change in the film and ultimately left me feeling that the formula of just some over-the-hill guys trying to have fun in Vegas was the far better approach.

Freeman is just dying to narrate the act of himself pushing the little girl in the swing.

Secondly, the very fact that Billy has second thoughts about the wedding and a love triangle is brought into the mix between himself, Paddy and the singer played by Steenburgen, I felt really hurt what little momentum this comedy had going for it . While Steenburgen is a terrific actress, her character just felt out of place in the story. Granted, the film’s moral is all about living your age and being happy with who you are and not trying to race against the clock to be young again, her placement in the film’s story just felt like a hindrance to the innocent humor the movie starts with. While this dynamic could have easily worked, I couldn’t help but feel that she was awkwardly placed in the film as her character has a tendency to come and go in-between scenes of old dudes trying to party in the hotel’s club.

Steenburgen, shown here--ah, I'm not going to do that again.

I can’t say that I hated Last Vegas because I didn’t (although the pun title is kinda hard to deal with). The film definitely had its moments of levity and charm, the story is decent and the cast is great in their respective roles. Honestly, even though the entire film is about behaving badly in a town that has a reputation for behaving badly, there was an almost wholesome feel to all of it. Ultimately, though, the film suffered towards the end and it just got too cheesy to even become just a average film for me.

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