“Last Vegas” sounds like a movie lover’s dream. Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline head to Sin City to throw a bachelor party for their about to be married buddy Michael Douglas (in a role that hits very close to home). Though there’s promise in the premise, the comedy mostly falls flat, there’s little chemistry among the stars and you don’t have as much fun as they probably did.
De Niro’s performance and character rings the truest of the four pals. His Paddy is a still grieving reclusive widower hanging out in his bathrobe among countless photos of his deceased wife. He grudgingly heads to Vegas in spite of his unresolved bitterness towards Billy (Douglas). We instantly sympathize with his initial inability to have a good time and his lack of joy over Billy’s impending nuptials to a woman half his age. He has some nice dramatic moments and also gets a few laughs while solidly anchoring the movie.
The other three mostly come off as cartoonish and predictable. Douglas’ Billy is a wealthy playboy with a modicum of charm trying to avoid his age. Archie (Freeman) is a divorced granddad held prisoner by an overprotective son and Sam (Kline) is a bored Florida husband clumsily looking for action. While we can’t help but like them, their material gives us a grin and a giggle and best and leaves us wanting something more and better.
The best character and overall performance comes from fifth star Mary Steenburgen as Diana, a very small-time lounge singer. She is a bubbly delight and a very real person quick to call our male foursome on their posturing. And her singing ain’t too bad either.
“Last Vegas” hints at several ideas that you wish had been fully developed, perhaps into better movies. Still, it improves in its second half as it gets away from old guys ogling scantily clad young women and lame bathroom and pop culture jokes and gives way to a lightly dramatic and romantic side. If you like the stars, it’s a mildly amusing way to kill a few hours.