The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Last Vegas

When the trailer was first released, there was a lot of sarcastic speculation that Last Vegas would be “The Hangover with senior citizens.” Had that been the case, it would have been infinitely preferable to what we actually get. Last Vegas is really Grown Ups 2 with senior citizens. It's an excruciatingly lazy comedy that's filled with obvious, predictable, low-brow jokes and a twinge of phony sentimentality in the third act.

Michael Douglas plays Billy, a guy engaged to a woman half his age. His three childhood pals decide to throw him a bachelor party in Las Vegas. Sam (Kevin Kline) has been given a “hall pass” by his wife to have a random sexual encounter in Sin City, in hopes that he'll get his unhappiness out of his system. Archie (Morgan Freeman) suffered a stroke and is now babied by the adult son he lives with. Paddy (Robert DeNiro) is a widower who hasn't quite forgiven Billy for not showing up at his wife's funeral. Together, the old timers party and gamble in Vegas, and Billy meets a failing lounge singer named Diana (Mary Steenburgen) who is his own age and, therefore, very intimidating to him.

Last Vegas is the kind of movie that recycles the same old-age jokes that bad geriatric comedies have been using forever. Did you know that men of a certain age sometimes need to take a little blue pill to achieve an erection? Or that old people's muscles ache sometimes? Or that incontinence can be a problem for the aged? Or that seniors sometimes have trouble understanding technology? Dan Fogelman's screenplay relies on all these things for laughs, despite there being nothing original – or even especially funny - about them. It has all the depth of a 105-minute Jay Leno routine on growing old. Most of the stuff meant to make you laugh involves boobs, boners, ailments, or sex. At one point, Archie says he has a hemorrhoid older than Billy's fiancee. Yeah, it's like that.

The set-up/pay-off structure of Last Vegas often made me feel psychic. There were literally moments when I silently said the next line of dialogue to myself a second before the character on screen said it. That's how obvious the jokes are. If you fed every cheap joke about growing old into a computer and asked it to spit out a screenplay, you'd get the script for this film. Jon Turtletaub, director of such esteemed fare as 3 Ninjas and Disney's The Kid makes certain that every gag hits with as little subtlety as possible.

As grating as the “humor” is, the movie's attempts at pathos are even worse. Within the first five minutes, you know exactly how each of the characters' individual mini-dramas are going to play out. You are not wrong. This leaves the viewer with nothing to do except sit there and wait for Last Vegas to march toward the inevitable, which it does with maddening dullness.

The stars do what they can with atrocious material. This train wreck isn't their fault. Last Vegas simply doesn't bother to look for anything new in its subject matter. The film is content to show us old men awkwardly trying to party with young women and griping about their aches and pains. If this strikes you as funny, go buy a ticket. If it strikes you as desperate, welcome to the club.

( 1/2 out of four)

Last Vegas is rated PG-13 for sexual content and language. The running time is 1 hour and 45 minutes.

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