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On paper, there’s almost nothing about John Turteltaub’s golden age comedy Last Vegas that sounds like it would be anything but a trite comedy shooting for the lowest common denominator. Four old guys hit Vegas for one last barn-burning hoorah. Space Cowboys meets The Hangover, by way of The Bucket List? Maybe not exactly. The above theatrical trailer, which comes to us from Yahoo! Movies, doesn’t add any deep metaphorical context to the basic premise, but I was sadly taken in by the cornball humor, finding myself plainly excited to see these four actors yukking it up together, even though Vegas is probably too grand a stage.
Michael Douglas’ Billy is getting married to a woman half his age - and coincidentally the same age as his friend Archie’s (Morgan Freeman) hemorrhoids – and he calls up his oldest pals from childhood to share in his celebration, which includes a few nights in Vegas before the wedding. Besides Freeman, we also have Robert De Niro as Billy’s sometimes-rival Paddy and Kevin Kline as Sam. These are some of the most classic thespians still in the game, and their chemistry is quite believable, even if Michael Douglas never really looks like he’s having fun, perhaps due to his plastic surgery-enhanced smiles. But this script should be a lot more interesting.
The jokes range from obvious – “Tonight, we’re going to party like it’s 1959.” – to the physical, and I’ll admit to smiling when it’s revealed Freeman is taking a huge breath just to jump a few inches out of his window in order to sneak away. It’s like a joke tailor-made for trailers. I rather like that Freeman seems to be the only one who is really pouring on the geriatric humor, while the others space it out accordingly.
But it’s still a Turteltaub flick, so there are going to be problems. I get unnerved watching these guys and their bachelor party become the center of attention in the middle of a city where a quarter of its temporary inhabitants are possibly doing the same thing. I get it, but it’s so clichéd at this point.
And any time a movie broadly namedrops anything pop culture, there’s always room for trouble. So when Romany Malco makes a reference to 50 Cent and none of the guys know who he’s talking about, it falls dead flat. 50 Cent’s fame blew up 10 years ago, and he hasn’t had an album out in the last four, so the timing is just weird, unless the screenplay was written 10 years ago and no one felt the need to change it. That joke should have been hidden in the movie, not showcased on a trailer.
Perhaps the most unsettling thing is that this film is currently rated R. For “brief sexual content.” Strip club boobs, maybe? This trailer was a hard PG at worst. I could understand if Kline was cursing a blue streak while doing coke off of a stripper’s vagina for large segments of the movie, but that’s not the case, and no one looking for an R-rated dramatic comedy is going to front run Last Vegas. My complaining will be for naught, though, as the filmmakers have appealed the rating. It’ll be a PG-13 movie soon. But it’s the principle, man. Not that those flow freely in Vegas.
Last Vegas will release opposite Ender’s Game on November 1,