Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
If you saw "The Hangover" and thought, "I would enjoy this film more if nothing of consequence happened, and it were clean enough to screen at a retirement home," then "Last Vegas" is custom made for your needs. Written by Dan Fogleman and directed by Jon Turtletaub ("National Treasure"), this tale of four old buddies reuniting in Las Vegas is what you might call "low-impact" comedy. There's really nothing to it except sentimental shtick.
Billy (Michael Douglas), a millionaire notorious for resisting matrimony the way most people resist drinking lye, has finally decided to get hitched. His bride-to-be is 30 years old. You don't need to know her name or anything about her because the film isn't really interested in her. She's just the pretext to get the old gang back together. Said gang includes Archie (Morgan Freeman), who recently suffered a mild stroke and is being micromanaged to prisonerhood by his well-meaning son; Sam (Kevin Kline), happily married but depressed by his loss of lust for life, and Paddy (Robert De Niro), a widower who sits at home all day moping and scowling, surrounded by pictures of his beloved. Paddy is the refusenik of the group, in theory—he and Billy had a falling out over Billy's failure to attend Paddy's wife's funeral, and this incident is rooted in a deeper conflict that the film will explain and re-explain and re-re-explain, never with any grace.
What awaits the reunited gang in Las Vegas? Luxury. Great food. Swanky entertainment. If you think this sounds like a feature-length ad for a particular city, bingo. The film's geography-based product placement is over-the-top even by the standards of self-deprecating Hollywood piffle. The gang ends up staying at the Aria, the Aria, the Aria, did I mention the Aria? I must have. The logo seems as though it's in every other shot.
The friends do what people do in Vegas when they'd rather not risk arrest or catch a disease: they gamble; they have nice meals; they walk around and take in the sights; they bicker, sometimes amusingly, sometimes tiresomely. Light and fluffy as it is, this elder fantasy could have been a minor classic had the script created four characters with convincingly detailed comic psychologies, but "Last Vegas" isn't interested in trying that hard. It offloads the burden of characterization onto its actors, and the Aria.