By Laurie Coker

Rating: C+

Director Jon Turteltaub’s Last Vegas, starring Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline, plays out like a melding of Hangover and The Bucket List, but is not quite as entertaining as the first or as endearing as the latter, but likable nonetheless. While, upon the word of a friend, I expected to laugh far more, I found the film’s distinguished stars charming, but the story trite and much of the dialogue uninspiring, except for brilliant moments of hilarity, delivered mainly by Freeman and Kline.

Best buddies in their youth, Billy (Douglas), Paddy (De Niro), Sam (Kline) and Archie (Freeman) septuagenarians converge on Vegas for the bachelor party for Billy, who is set to marry a girl less than half his age. What ensues is sometimes funny, oft stupid and most assuredly wholly predictable. From wild drunken binges, inconceivable happenstances and old grudges, to love, gambling and geriatric humor, Last Vegas has it all. Except, that is, for depth and concrete, crisp comedic core.

With a cast like this one, Turteltaub might have given his viewers so much more than charming actors, tired aging gags and implausible situations. Most certainly, I enjoyed watching this well-seasoned crew and some of their antics, and they do their best to deliver every joke with the appropriate facial expressions and timing. Mary Steenburgen adds femininity and conflict to the affair, reopening a old and newer wound between Billy and Paddy, causing a rift, but transparency keeps the fire low. Notably, the writing never allows these great performers to shine as they should.

Although it might not seem like it, Last Vegas is still a crowd pleaser, in line with other feel-good, popcorn-munching, fun-loving, mindless movies. It affords a few belly laughs, not as many as my friend claimed, but Kline and Freeman, the comedy faces of the film, deliver with zeal. I give Turteltaub and screenwriter Dan Fogelman a C+, but the fellows far higher!

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