Last Vegas

I did not like The Hangover, did not see Bucket List, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Last Vegas. 

This is story about the Flatbush Four, a gang of Brooklyn tear-aways, 50 years on, reunited to celebrate Billy’s impending Las Vegas nuptials to a plastic babe, 30 years his junior. For this is, as the four quip on arrival, ‘the first bachelor party that could be covered by Medicaid’.

Turteltaub takes us on a gentle journey of sideways swipes at attitudes to old age: there’s the grumpy and bereaved Paddy, mouldering in his apartment; Sam, who has moved to a retirement community in Florida, whom we meet doing water aerobics with a troop of mostly obese or half-dead residents; Archie is recovering from a stroke and is being treated like a naughty, helpless child by his patronising yet loving son; and, finally, the misfit, Billy, fake-tanned and tooth-whitened to a Californian caricature, the root cause of this reunion with his impromptu marriage proposal delivered in a funeral oratory! The scene is set for some fun…

But all is not a bed of roses in old age, as some of us know! Paddy harbours a deep hatred and resentment of Billy: he cannot forgive him for not coming to his beloved wife’s funeral. Tricked into the trip, this anger boils over and provides the gentle plot of the movie, when both men fall for alluring middle-aged crooner, Diana (gorgeous Mary Steenburgen), who has both good voice and looks plus a whiplash repartee. 

What is so delightful is the obvious fun our leading four had in making this jolly jape of a film. Dressed in appalling geriatric gear, we find them blagging their way into the most luxurious suite in the hotel, judging beauty contests, clubbing with nubile young things – actually these sirens with tights asses and plastic boobs abound, suprisingly attracted to our frumpy foursome – all the time cracking jokes and looking out for each other. The years peel off as they get to live again, if only for a weekend.

Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline (barely seen in a movie since his hilarious contribution to A Fish Called Wanda) and a rather strangled Michael Douglas – perhaps still in recovery from his throat tumour – all play blinders here. They manage to charm and entertain and, thankfully, there are no real cringe-worthy moments, such as waking up naked in a stranger’s bed with an ape or being married to a perfect stranger (the reason why I hate comedies normally).Frothy and fun, there is nevertheless a little jibe at modern attitudes to old age. In Africa and Asia elders are venerated and respected. Here we put our aged relations out to grass, lock them up in homes and throw away the key, assuming their aptitude for enjoyment and zest for life diminishes with the years. So while I could never give a comedy a seriously high star rating, Last Vegasis one for when you need to have a good laugh and forget all the crap life throws at us as we get older.

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