Twitter Plot Summary: After proposing to his much younger girlfriend, Billy’s childhood friends throw him a bachelor party in Vegas.
Five Point Summary:
1. He’s far too old for her, surely?
2. Singer in a Vegas bar. Oh, it’s Mrs Ted Danson!
3. Shouldn’t he be hanging out with his wife to be?
4. The truth comes out.
5. And that’s the ending we expected. Smashing.
The Hangover formula has been used many times since that first film in 2009, but this may be the first example of that template being applied to the over-60s market. Admittedly in the case of Last Vegas, there isn’t a weird and whacky plot where they piece together what happened the night before, nor is there a tiger or any possibility of Ken Jeong making an appearance. So far, so good.
Billy (Douglas) proposes to his 32 year old girlfriend at a funeral. They decide to get married in a hurry and naturally the best place for that is Las Vegas. He calls his closest friends, Archie (Freeman) and Sam (Kline), who offer to throw him a bachelor party. The only sticking point is the fourth in their group, Paddy (De Niro), who has issues with Billy after he didn’t turn up to the funeral of Paddy’s wife. Subsequently, the story follows them to Vegas where they get into some hi-jinx, learn a few things and try and resolve their issues.
The sections involving the characters rueing a life that’s gone by all too quickly are perhaps the best aspect of the film. In close second are those featuring Mary Steenburgen, emphasising that getting older doesn’t have to be the end of everything you enjoy – her character moved into a career she enjoyed before it was too late and the daily trudge of normal life stopped her achieving her dreams. At the less welcome end of the spectrum is how keen it is to leer over younger women, mostly in bikinis, but thankfully there isn’t enough of that to ruin the good will generated by the remainder of the story. It’s great to see these four legends team up, and the chemistry between them all is spot on. You could almost believe that these four have been friends for decades, and that’s half the battle won.
The important question, though, is is it actually funny? That’s a resounding yes, although don’t go in expecting massive belly laughs, this is an all the more gentle style of humour. All four of our main troupe have plenty of zingers to dish out, and Steenburgen shows an incredible talent for issuing a droll/sarcastic putdown. The script also wins for injecting a decent amount of soul to proceedings, as each of them deals with their own individual concerns about growing old (hip replacements, loss of libido, strokes , death and so on), yet it never gets maudlin.
What did I learn from Last Vegas? Apart from the fact we don’t see enough of Kevin Kline these days, very little. But apart from the lack of any substantial ideas, the occasional objectification of women and the incredibly linear story, I enjoyed it without having to engage my brain too much, and really enjoyed the interaction between the ageing quartet. Assuming it makes money (which is uncertain given the delays it experienced in the UK), then I would gladly see these four appear in a sequel. Let’s just avoid a trip to Bangkok, shall we?