By Kurt Jensen
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — What happens in Vegas goes oh-so-slowly and sedately in "Last Vegas" (CBS).
A geezer version of "The Hangover" films this is not. There’s no gore or raunch, little mention of the physical indignities created by the passage of time, and only delicate references to sexual misbehavior that never occurs. If not for a loud party in a hotel’s penthouse suite, this picture may as well be set in Altoona, Pa. — or, for a really swinging time, Shippensburg.
Except for a couple of sharp quips and sight gags early on, it’s also quite pale as a comedy. So it’s a tame slog unless you’re a completist fan of this group of actors of a certain age going through their paces as their characters rebuild their teenage bonds.
Michael Douglas is the never-married Billy, about to finally tie the knot with Lisa (Bre Blair), a woman 32 years his junior. Age means nothing to her, since Billy has a beach house in Malibu, plus an incredible amount of money.
He decides to get his old pals, formerly known as the Flatbush Four, together for a bachelor party in Las Vegas. Sam (Kevin Kline) is doing physical therapy from a new titanium knee. The twice-divorced Archie (Morgan Freeman) now lives with his son and granddaughter. Paddy (Robert DeNiro) is widowed and still bitter that Billy, formerly his closest friend, didn’t come to the funeral to deliver the eulogy.
After a dutiful round of medication jokes, they all arrive in Sin City, with the added twist that Sam’s hugely understanding wife, Miriam (Joanna Gleason), has given him actual permission to commit adultery.
As quickly as they arrive, they encounter good-hearted saloon singer Diana (Mary Steenburgen). She is everyone’s pal, listening to their problems. Billy and Paddy eventually compete for her, just as they did decades ago over the girl Paddy married, and have to resolve their rivalry of decades ago.
Director Jon Turteltaub and screenwriter Dan Fogelman don’t even bother to make the guys’ judging of a poolside bikini contest anywhere near naughty. Sam talks a lot about chasing girls, but he’s too much the loyal husband to succumb.
Diana smiles broadly while dispensing aphorisms. Archie’s talent for blackjack earns the boys the comped penthouse suite. Paddy is handy with his fists against impudent younger guys, but if that’s supposed to be a "Raging Bull" reference, it’s quite an oblique one.
The film contains fleeting side female nudity, mild sexual banter and fleeting crass language and profanities. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
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Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.
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