The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Last Vegas

Everyone liked The Hangover, right? Yeah, we don't have to go into the entertaining, but completely unnecessary sequels, but that original was pretty good, huh?!? When I saw the trailer for this movie, my first thought was "Oh, that sounds cool, The Hangover for older people...and with an A-list cast!" How can you go wrong? I submit that you cannot. Here we go with 2013's Last Vegas.

In his late 60s and a successful businessman, Billy (Michael Douglas) is getting married for the first time, proposing to his 32-year old girlfriend (Bre Blair). To celebrate the upcoming wedding, Billy calls his childhood friends, Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline), who agree that they need to do a bachelor party Las Vegas. There's a problem though, the fourth member of the group of friends, Paddy (Robert De Niro), refuses to go, holding a grudge against Billy for an incident from the past. Archie and Sam manage to convince a less than excited Paddy to go with to the bachelor party and fly to Las Vegas to meet up with Billy. Each of the four friends is looking for something out of the weekend, and maybe they'll be able to mend the fences from all their past issues. Maybe, just maybe, they'll have some fun doing it too.

This drama-comedy from director Jon Turteltaub is an easy one to figure out if audiences will like it. Watch the trailer and you'll know immediately if this is the movie for you. It's The Hangover with less partying, drinking and drugs, replaced with jokes for an older audience about health problems, aging quicker than ever, and plenty of jokes about the prostate, having to pee a lot, and all your friends passing away or getting sick. I'm making it sound far more negative than it was -- I laughed a lot during the movie -- but come on. It's Douglas, De Niro, Freeman and Kline in a movie together, a story about rekindling old friendships. It's familiar, like home cooking, and funny throughout. This isn't a comedy that rewrites the genre or throws anything new your way. Sit back and watch some very talented actors have a lot of fun together. That's it.

Movies like this are supposed to be just that, a hell of a lot of fun. So what's a good recipe for making that happen? Put four actors together with the caliber of Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline and Robert De Niro and.....nope, that's it. I would watch this quartet hang out at a bar shooting the breeze. That's it. These guys are four Hollywood legends and working off a script from Dan Fogelman, they are having a hell of a lot of fun. The four friends grew up together in New York City, dubbing themselves the Flatbush Four. They're grown up, started families, become grandparents, drifted apart some, but they keep in touch as much as possible. Given a chance to reunite, they're able to put past differences aside (mostly). This is a very talented quartet working together, all getting a chance to show off their comedic timing -- Freeman and Kline are especially funny -- as they have a hell of a weekend in Las Vegas.

Each is given a gimmick of sorts, a little thing needed to work out. Douglas' Billy is getting hitched but is concerned about seeing Paddy who is pissed at him for a recent event Billly was unable to attend. Their friendship is one that borders on rivalry, especially when they both meet and like Mary Steenburgen's sassy, smart-mouthed lounge singer. Freeman's Archie is coming off a mild stroke, his son (Michael Ealy) worried about his sick dad, placing limits on eating, drinking and just about everything while pushing pill after pill. Kline's Sam is recouping from hip surgery, hating his life in Retirement Village, USA. He's given permission by his wife (Joanna Gleason) to have sex -- no strings attached -- with any woman while in Vegas. For Archie and Sam, the weekend becomes about reuniting with friends but also reclaiming their wild oats. That becomes the funnest part of the 105-minute movie.

Also look for Entourage alum Jerry Ferrara as a Vegas partygoer who gets on the Flatbush Four's bad side and Romany Malco as Lonnie, the Four's personal assistant and tour guide of sorts at their swanky hotel villa. Even look for a quick and you'll miss it cameo from rapper 50 Cent.  

The story is focused on the four friends -- obviously -- as they explore Vegas, meet the dreamy lounge singer, work as judges on a bikini contest, get into a high-end nightclub with some pricey bottle service, gamble a little bit here and there, bust each others' balls but don't let outsiders do the same (only friends can do that), throw the biggest party Las Vegas has ever seen and maybe find out what brought them all together as friends and kept them as friends for over 60 years. It isn't a great movie because it isn't meant to be. More movies should be like this, funny, well-acted and entertaining throughout. Highly recommended if for nothing else than Morgan Freeman is a really good dancer. Age be damned.

Last Vegas (2013): ***/****


  1. so many people wanted to hate this movie because it was cliche and the great actors are in a sort of template comedy, but i enjoyed it as well and gave it three stars too

  2. Exactly. Seemed like a lot of reviews hated it the second they saw the trailer, and that was it. Game over. Opinions aside, give it a shot because the talent assembled is eternally watchable.