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'Last Vegas' review: Coming soon to a plane near you

Matt Pais, @mattpais

RedEye movie critic

October 31, 2013

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** (out of four)

Not to be confused with Chicago band The Last Vegas, “Last Vegas” also won’t be mistaken for “Bad Grandpa,” though both feature horny old men and neither is funny. “Last Vegas” plops four veteran actors in an R-rated fantasy land and lets them have PG-13-rated fun. The result is “The Hangover” rewritten to resemble “The Bucket List.”

Michael Douglas stars as Billy, whose glamorous California life and gorgeous squeeze (Bre Blair) at first suggest “Last Vegas” could turn into “Grown Ups,” in which Adam Sandler gives his character tons of cash and Salma Hayek. “LV” doesn’t go that low, but it sometimes comes close (including multiple judgmental shots of older women’s bodies). I knew the world didn’t need to see former LMFAO member Redfoo put his crotch in Robert De Niro’s face, and apparently I should have put that on the record sooner.

That scene occurs after Paddy (De Niro), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline) join lifelong pal Billy in Vegas for a bachelor party before his wedding to the 31-year-old his pals call an “infant.” Conveniently it takes the group about four minutes in Sin City to meet Diana (Mary Steenburgen), a looker of an acceptable age who either will teach Billy what he really wants or help Paddy re-engage with society after losing his wife. Meanwhile, Archie enjoys time off from being babied by his son (Michael Ealy), and Sam awkwardly seeks to cash in the Viagra and condom his wife gave him, thinking a free pass will revive their marriage.

Freeman’s funny when slurring his words and saying that a Red Bull-vodka feels like getting drunk and electrocuted at the same time. There’s always room for an entertaining, lighthearted comedy or an intelligent statement about making the most of life. (Cue Freeman’s “Get busy living or get busy dying” line from “Shawshank Redemption.”) “Last Vegas” is neither. The second-consecutive disappointment from writer Dan Fogelman (“Crazy Stupid Love,” “The Guilt Trip”) frustratingly plays it safe, refusing any significant mistakes or juicy impulses in favor of jokes like a young girl asking Sam for drugs so he can respond, “Does Lipitor count?”

Twenty years ago, director Jon Turteltaub made “Cool Runnings,” another movie about a quartet of guys doing something unexpected in an unlikely place. Those bad-ass mothers didn’t take no crap from nobody. The men of “Last Vegas” deserved a better chance to feel the rhythm. 

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

 

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