Last Vegas (2013)

Last VegasReleased: November 1, 2013. Directed by: Jon Turteltaub. Starring: Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman. Runtime: 105 min.

During “Last Vegas,” I often sarcastically thought – I can’t wait until I get old. I get to have those pill holders with the days of the week on them; have the constant threat of diseases like mild strokes; back pain; erectile dysfunction. That sounds like the life, and I already have one of those things, so I just cannot wait until I experience all of them. Even if any of these older gentlemen have half of the things listed, they’re out to prove they can still party like it’s 1969, when they were actually in their prime.

Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (Robert De Niro), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline) have been best pals since the early days, and they having a reunion in Vegas – because Billy is getting married to a girl half his age, which just sets up countless jokes, but I don’t remember any references to Hugh Hefner in the actual film.

Billy and Paddy aren’t the best of pals right now, however – and they have some making up to do. You see, these two guys loved the same girl, Sophie, when they were kids – and she ended up marrying Paddy. With that, they have some unresolved issues which I won’t spoil.

Sam is given a hall pass because he is having intimacy problems with the lady back home, and what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. This is an amusing sub-plot, even if it is so familiar I was having deja vu during one scene. Archie recently had a health spook and now he’s just searching for a little independence. The story’s really about showing how these guys’ relationships have been through a lot but they can still tolerate each other, so that’s a nice thing. There’s another sub-plot where the guys meet a woman named Diana (Mary Steenburgen), a woman with the traditional lounge singer job in Vegas. Her character helps mainly Billy and Paddy grow. It might have been funnier if she turned out to be a hooker, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of PG-13 rated movies have many hookers in them; unless you count Woody Harrelson in “Anger Management.”

As far as PG-13 rated films go, this one shows that they can still be pretty damn funny. There’s some mild language (one F-bomb) and some sexual content, so one can see where it could be edited to get an R-rating. There’s a bikini contest, just take off the bikinis – and bam, young teens would then have to sneak in. It’s a funny movie that is reminiscent of “The Hangover” but I think the character development’s a bit stronger – but the original “Hangover” is a much better film. This is a familiar Vegas outing, but a decent one. The big laughs are probably eight minutes between each other (don’t quote me on that), but the chuckles are strong throughout.

It’s a nice movie that makes each of these characters realize that they can still be happy as older gentlemen, and still live happy lives –  and that’s a good message for people. It seems that the writers feel too often that they have shove in an old person joke every five minutes, some hit – but we get it, they’re old. They call Google “the Google”, This movie makes me realize that Kline is 66 years old, even if he looks pretty good for his age. All these older actors get many laughs out of the audience, and it has fun with a simple premise. The actors are great so they make these generic characters seem much better than they are. The intention of this innocent movie called “Last Vegas” is to give people a good time, and at least it has a good heart. It’s sort-of funny that this bachelor party movie, one that is reminiscent of “The Hangover” is a much, much better film than “The Hangover Part III.”

Score70/100

The Last of Robin Hood – TIFF 2013 Review

Released: September 6, 2013 at Toronto International Film Festival. Directed by: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland. Starring: Kevin Kline, Dakota Fanning, Susan Sarandon. Runtime: 94 min. 

The Last Of Robin Hood“The Last of Robin Hood” chronicles the final months of Errol Flynn (Kevin Kline), the iconic Robin Hood star and well-known ladies man. During this time, he had a romance with the under-age starlet Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning), his last love, and he was her first. Susan Sarandon portrays the world’s worst Mom, Florence Aadland, who agrees to go around with Errol and her daughter so the press doesn’t think anything fishy is going on.

The tale is told in a stylish and entertaining manner. Beverly and Florence’s personality clashes are interesting. Florence is willing to do just about anything to get the spotlight shone on her, while Bev is completely indifferent about fame. Fame is Flo’s dream, not Bev’s. This lifestyle is shoved onto Beverly. Flo lost her leg in a bad car accident when she was younger. I theorize that Florence would have liked to eventually pursue an acting career, but couldn’t because her prosthetic leg held her back. No matter the case, she is the world’s worst mother.

Beverly is also one bad actress. When Beverly is on-screen shooting a movie, it’s hilarious because during her one shoot, she’s absolutely terrible – but Dakota Fanning’s performance is good. You can tell when she’s acting well, and acting purposefully bad. As her father says in one powerful scene, Bev cannot act her way out of a paper bag. The father is portrayed by Patrick St. Esprit, who is effective in one scene. Sarandon brings it to her role, and it must be challenging to portray a mother that pretends to make sacrifice after sacrifice for her daughter, but it’s mostly just what she wants.

The romance between Errol and Bev might be controversial because of their age difference, but it seems real, and makes for an interesting subject. Kevin Kline is the perfect choice for Errol Flynn, and it’s interesting to learn all of this about the original Robin Hood. His performance, and the rest of the primary cast, elevates the film to a whole new level. It’s stylish and there’s a decent amount of comic relief. This is an enjoyable passion project from directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. It’s never boring, but the content is repetitive. Much like “My Week with Marilyn,” this bio pic is light on just about everything. It’s good that way, but it doesn’t help it stand out.

Score74/100