Sunday, November 3, 2013

Last Vegas [2013]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  ChicagoTribune (2 1/2 Stars) (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (D-)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (K. Jensen) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (M. Zoller-Seitz) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

Okay, the premise of Last Vegas [2013] (directed by Jon Turteltaub, screenplay by Dan Fogelman) seems like a the beginning of the a joke: So these four "old guys" (with or without the quotes) decide to go to Vegas ... but what actually results is IMHO actually a pretty good story about, yes, "growing old," but also about friendship and coming to terms with who one is, what one's received in life, and the decisions that one has made (and yes, is still making).  So I honestly have to say that I loved the film.

It also helps that the five leads in this film -- the four "old guys" and yes, the lounge singer that they meet along the way (still feels like the beginning of a joke ... ;-) -- are all also "old pros" AND THAT THEY CLEARLY LOVED THEIR PARTS AND BELIEVED IN THE FILM. 

So what's the film about?  It's about four guys who've truly been BFFs since growing up together in Brooklyn, NY (and eons before the world of texting brought us such acronyms as BFF ;-).  Indeed they called themselves the Flatbush Four, and for the most part they've stuck together through thick and thin.  But now they're over 70, and all of them are finding themselves in need of confronting the reality that ahead of them really lie their "sunset years."  So here they are ...

Archie (played by Morgan Freeman) who's found himself in life twice divorced and is now living "somewhere out in the suburbs" with a loving but overly protective son and his family after having suffered a TbtG relatively minor stroke some months back.  There's Sam (played by Kevin Kline) living with his wife of 35-40 years, retired out in Florida, and just having finished physical therapy after getting "a titanium knee replacement" (following the hip replacement he had last year ...).   There's Paddy (played by Robert DeNiro), widowed approaching a year, still living in Brooklyn still distraught over the loss of his wife who had been his high school sweetheart and the only woman he's ever loved, and REALLY, REALLY PISSED OFF that his and his wife's BEST FRIEND of the bunch, Billy (played by Michael Douglas), "couldn't find time to leave his beach house in Malibu" (Billy, never married, but had been the one who made it really, really big) "to come to Suzie's funeral much less GIVE THE EULOGY that Suzie had asked him give because ' he could always make everyone smile.'  Some friend, after all these years ..."

Well, the story really begins with 70 y.o. Billy adjusting his tie in the above-mentioned Malibu beach house, and asking his 31-ish model material girlfriend Lisa (played by Bre Blair) to "please hurry-up" because they were heading to another funeral, that of his business mentor where he was again going to give the Eulogy ... There Billy tells the assembled (sort of) bereaved that said mentor, now dead, had told him that "In life, you'll never grow old as long as you have a REALLY BIG ... ... Malibu beach house."  The people laugh, but looking down at the casket of his business mentor, now dead, the joke no longer seemed overly funny to 70 y.o. Billy.  And so he does something quite surprising (at a funeral, giving the Eulogy ...).  He proposes to his drop-dead gorgeous (did I already note above that she was 31-ish....) Lisa right then and there.  And she, perhaps she really does like older, and (perhaps) still vibrant men says ... (and perhaps SHE REALLY DOES ... in part ...) ... says ... YES!!!

And so it is.  With "not much time to waste ..." there's a quick wedding shower where 70 year old Billy has a rather awkward conversation with the 50-something "Father of the Bride..." ;-) and the wedding's set then for the following weekend.

It's then that Billy calls first Archie, then adds Sam to the call, telling them the news ... and the idea of throwing a Bachelor Party for Billy is conceived.  All three know that Paddy's still really pissed at Billy, but Billy himself tells the other two to do what they can to get Paddy to come because it really wouldn't be the same with out the whole "Flatbush Four" being present.

And so it is ... the story of an epic (and thankfully still PG-13) Bachelor Party is set in motion, one that when they run into above mentioned late-40 something / 50 something lounge singer Diana (played magnificently by Mary Steenburgen), she characterizes as "The First Bachelor Party that she's ever heard of that could be covered by Medicare." ;-) ;-)

Much ensues, and much of it is surprisingly good.  These are five people (both the characters and the actors playing them) who've "been around the block."  Even the problem between Billy and Paddy is multifaceted and its resolution is also surprisingly textured. 

Yes, its a 105 minute or so film (less than 2 hours).  Yes, it's also largely a comedy.  But it is surprisingly credible and poignant and ultimately a celebration of a set of friendships that has really lasted forever.

Honestly folks GREAT JOB!  Together with The Guilt Trip [2012] starring another "old pro" (Barbara Streisand) one could sell the two films as a boxed set!  And honestly though NO ONE really expects this film to be nominated for anything come awards season ... THE SCREEN-PLAY at minimum deserves a look! ;-)

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