Having just returned from our weekend wedding at the Aria, Last Vegas, which was heavily promoted in the hotel, was a natural pick for our first married "Date Night". Last Vegas is primary set in the Aria and follows four childhood best friends as they celebrate a bachelor party weekend for the last among them who is about to tie the knot.
Billy (Michael Douglas) is nearly seventy and for the first time in his life, he's about to get married. Much to the chagrin of his friends, his bride-to-be is half his age. Billy's friends have their own issues.
Paddy ( Robert De Niro) has become a recluse, holed up in his Brooklyn apartment in mourning over the death of his beloved wife. Archie (Morgan Freeman) has recently suffered a stroke and is being carefully supervised by his adult son. Sam (Kevin Kline) has lost the spark in his marriage and feels like his soul has been dying since moving to a retirement community in Florida. Although the Vegas trip is to celebrate Billy, all four men realize that they desperately need an escapist weekend and the opportunity to rekindle their friendship.
The movie doesn't get off to a great start. There is a lot of old person humor and "senior moments". They're old, we get it. It's over-kill.
Luckily, within the first third of the movie, I started forgetting about the bad jokes. It's not that they went away, it's that the characters started to endear themselves to me.
The tone of the movie shifts when the guys meet a lounge singer, Diana (Mary Steenburgen) at Binions. Steenburgen steals the show when she is on the screen. Diana puts all of the guys in their place and adds a much need female presence in the story.
As with most comedies, this movie requires you to suspend-your-disbelief. The guys expand their gang to include a rather odd-ball bunch of characters, including the cast of Aria's Cirque Du Soleil show, Zarkana. There are clowns and juggling.
There is no way possible that their budget could have bought them what it did at Aria. Having just stayed there, I can report with confidence, that your money doesn't go far at Aria. In the film they are comped an amazing suite, they have mega blow-out party and get snazzy new suits. This is in addition to throwing around money clubbing, getting a cabana and giving away large tips. It's all in fun though and makes the movie entertaining.
The main reason this movie works, is that the story has heart. Jokes aside, it addresses some real concerns and fears regarding aging. Douglas' character has a break down scene that is like a punch in the gut. The story serves as a good reminder to be patient with the older people in our lives and to resist treating them like children. Life isn't over, until it's over. Once the characters get their momentum back, their lives are filled with a renewed sense of purpose and vigor.
It's a solid buddy story and the four stars of the film have chemistry together. I bet that they had a great time making the movie and it shines through. I wouldn't discount a sequel.
It isn't necessary to catch Last Vegas in theaters, but you definitely should put it on your must-see list when it's released on DVD. It's a feel-good movie that has us leaving the theater with a big smile.