Last Vegas – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Last VegasLast Vegas – 3/5 – This is a review for a film that came out last year, and was recently released on blu-ray.  Going into this film, I had only one thought on my mind; this is ‘The Hangover with old men’.  Littered with a setting as predictable as ‘4 friends in Vegas’; you would expect something that was cluttered and not amusing.  In the overall experience, the film can be a predictable mess.  What you come to find is that this film may play on typical tropes; but you find it to be quite enjoyable.  Last Vegas finds that wonderful medium to be just ‘enjoyable’ without going into the realm of ‘forgettable’.  With decent acting and a simple plot, Last Vegas is a film that everyone can enjoy, while finding that anyone can party, even if they’re of the age of 70.

Premise: Best friends meet in Vegas for one last party before a wedding; where each of them finds out the purpose to life and the reason that bonds can outlast decades.

This film focuses on four main guys; who are fairly big name actors.  They are as followed:

Michael Douglas as Billy

Robert De Niro as Paddy

Morgan Freeman as Archie

Kevin Kline as Sam

All four of these actors are well renowned in their craft, with many great films in their catalog.  This film can be listed as ‘another payday’ when it comes to their acclaimed work.  Even though it might not be considered the most dramatic of films, each of the characters they portray have some kind of humanistic perspective; one that is grounded and believable.  What makes this notable is the fact that all four know what they are playing, and provide their own kind of shtick to add flavor to the characters.   Out of the group, you can definitely point out clichés in some of their performances, but it is still amusing watching them become befuddled at the antics and situations they get involved with in Las Vegas.   Douglas is the main focus of the four, the reason they are all in Vegas.  He is getting married, and wants to party with his best friends.  He has a bombastic attitude, but it helps provide a catalyst to De Niro’s character; Paddy.  De Niro provides his ‘Niro-isms’ to the role, but unlike movies where it becomes boring, it is very proper for this role.  His mannerisms help provide that warring buddy feeling that you find in any kind of friendship.  Kline and Freeman stand out as the comical ‘ploys’, but they give enough of a colorful presence to their roles to make it playful and heartfelt.  The chemistry between the four is beyond amazing.  When watching them on screen, you feel as if they are real friends; and have been for a long time.  No matter if it’s the dramatic tension between Billy and Paddy, or the random banters between Archie and Sam; there is enough to make them walk the fine line between traditional archetypes and poignant character structure.  Outside of these four, everyone else falls into the caricatures found in these kinds of ‘cheesy’ comedies.  Everything with the supporting characters are predictable, and borderlines on mind cringing.

When it comes to the direction of this film, there isn’t anything out of the norm.  The direction follows a very traditional line that has a script that combines the typical themes of ‘best friends’ and ‘Vegas oriented hijinx’.  Both are commonplace in many other movies, and this one is no difference.  Even so, the film stays along a simplistic tone while keeping the focus on the interactions between the friends. The film goes along one of the traditional structure of filming:

First act: Main character(s) seek purpose; plot device enacted to bring about purpose

Second act: Change of scenery; cheesy one-liners/comical hijinx/ dramatic moments

Third act: Pivotal moments/emotional choice; predictable ‘happy’ climax and prologue

When you see this, it seems to bring about a dull and boring experience.  At times, the film does having dull moments and struggles to keep up its short running time.  For majority of the time; it does provide entertaining moments and one-liners that would be ‘mind-numbing’ but isn’t because of the fact of who the actors are.  When we meet the four, they are down and out in their lives.  All changes when Billy decides to get married and bring the four to Vegas for a bachelor party.  As the film pace along (as explained above) and we get to see the four interact with each other; you start to realize there is the bubbling of another theme.  That theme is the ‘out of box’ experience.  Watching that ‘fish out of water’ perspective gives the film another layer to the traditional tropes, and the actors use their charisma to draw out enough for the audience to connect on a personal note.  When we move along into the second act, the film paces very quickly, moving from scene to scene with the commonplace of simplicity.  All scenes are predictable and sometimes tacky; but the whole mantra of ‘best friends’ combined with the newly other themes helps provoke their own personal drama.  This keeps the entertaining factor intact.  As mentioned before, this is basically ‘The Hangover with old men’, but that stigma doesn’t mean it’s bad.  The film does stand on its own, with its own purpose and desires based around the human emotion and those relationships we find dear.  Combined this with the other themes and the lackluster of the one-dimensional setup and ‘other’ characters that have been a part of the film looses their negative effect.  As we head into the third act, you start to realize there are ‘big’ decisions to be made.  We get the same hijinx as before, but we have grown to love the characters enough that it becomes ‘familiar’ in a good way.  Once we hit the climax, all the friends have come to a point of finding their ‘real’ purpose again, and learn a life lesson of some sorts.  Once the film rattles off its epilogue, you feel as if even though the experience is littered with very common and predictable plot devices and direction ploys, it is enjoyable because it feels as if the experience is something you could have as well.

The cinematography is something that isn’t the most important part of this film.  Even so, there isn’t really much to talk about; if you’ve seen Vegas, you know what it is all about.  The score adds to the fervor of all the whimsical moments, but it really doesn’t do anything to make the film great.

Last Vegas is pretty much what you get; a general film with some big name actors.  If you’re looking for something to past the time or watch at home on a Friday night, this is one you can through on your TV.  It is a rental at best, but it will be an enjoyable time.

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