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dir Jon Turteltaub
scr Dan Fogelman
prd Amy Baer, Joseph Drake, Laurence Mark
with Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas, Mary Steenburgen, Jerry Ferrara, Romany Malco, Roger Bart, Joanna Gleason, Michael Ealy, Bre Blair, Curtis Jackson
release US 1.Nov.13, UK 3.Jan.14
What happens in Vegas: Kline, Freeman, De Niro and Douglas
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
This may look like a geriatric Hangover movie, but it's not nearly that mean-spirited. With a bright script and Oscar winners in the five lead roles, this is an enjoyably silly comedy that pokes fun at relationships and ageing. It's also essentially a four-way bromance, and it wins us over in spite of ourselves.
Childhood buddies Paddy (De Niro), Archie (Freeman) and Sam (Kline) travel to Las Vegas to hold a bachelor party for their childhood pal Billy (Douglas). All four are resisting the advance of time: Paddy can't get over his wife's death, Archie wants out of his son's watchful eye, Sam is fed up with living in a Florida retirement community with his wife (Gleason), and Billy is marrying a woman (Blair) in her 30s. Among a variety of adventures, they meet lounge singer Diana (Steenburgen) and hold a massive party.
Frankly, the Vegas setting is irrelevant except for the gimmicky use of a heavily branded swanky hotel (everything else is branded too) to create a party atmosphere that helps boost the comical tone. There are a few set-pieces that don't work at all (such as when the boys judge a leery swimsuit competition), but most scenes are rooted in the characters just enough to make us smile.
Thankfully, Fogelman's script spends as much time building relationships as making toilet jokes, while Turtletaub goes beyond the cheap sight gags. All five actors add some weight to their characters' personal journeys. Freeman is having the most fun as he plays with Archie's giddy sense of mischief, while Douglas plays it the safest. Kline is trapped with the lamest gags since Sam has been given a free pass (including a Viagra and a condom) for the weekend. And De Niro gets the strongest emotional arc.
Watching these guys goof around is a lot more fun than we expect it to be, mainly because the film isn't as stupid as it looks. So we enjoy it even though the film is rather slapdash, with a willingness to settle for merely amusing because working for a big laugh is too much effort. But it's nice to see a film about old guys that never turns nostalgic: these men are looking forward, and have a lot more life in them yet.
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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