LAST VEGAS REVIEW

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At last! We may have all seen it all before but at least it was easygoing, watchable and fun!

It’s great to see a talented cast letting their guards down and having a laugh. Kevin Kline, welcome back. Where you been?!

In a nutshell, four old school friends reunite for a stag party in Vegas. The rest is gold.

The opening was very corny and predictable as we see the gang as young whippersnappers in the fifties. Unfortunately, the little uns’ acting leaves a little to be desired. Except for RJ Fattori playing the young Paddy (Robert De Niro). Where he lacked in conviction (look at me, judging it like it was an Oscar nominated movie), he nailed with De Niro’s mannerisms. Spot on. Noah Harden as the young Billy (Michael Douglas), however . . . Sorry bud.

But this is all quickly pushed aside and flash forwards 58 years later focusing on each individual as they battle depression, repression and sheer bloody boredom. Kline’s Sam was the scene stealer for me. Checking that one of his elderly cardio pals was still alive in the swimming pool was so wrong but hilarious.

Morgan Freeman’s Archie had potential with a subplot on his ailing health. BUT it was never going to be that type of film. Molly-coddled by his overprotective son who won’t even let him hold his granddaughter in fear of triggering a stroke. The poor pensioner is desperate to escape.

De Niro as Paddy, the miserable robe wearing wiser, may have been a role we’ve seen him do before (Cough. Meet the Parents. Cough) BUT it was still funny. However, his moaning and complaining soon got old really quick.

And, Mr Douglas. Firstly, what is going on with the teeth? Are you Rylan in disguise? For those lucky enough to be unfamiliar with last year’s UK X Factor, google Rylan Clark. You’ll get the idea. And the tan?! However, this is all for the taking for Freeman and Kline, delivering some cracking lines. Douglas’ Billy is fed up and scared of how old he is. He has everything and nothing. But in a moment of crazy euphoria, he proposes to his 32 year old “infant” girlfriend, at a funeral. A little OTT for my liking, I know. But at it’s core, it shows an exaggerated fear of getting old.

This movie isn’t perfect by any means. It’s predictable, corny, OTT but at it’s core is a tale of friendship, loss and proving that being old isn’t the end. Where is this rule that you have to stop living and stop being a fool?

The cast work well together. BUT Freeman and Kline were the masters for me. Once Freeman is unleashed in Vegas; he bosses the dance floor and proves that an old dog can learn new tricks. Kline was on fire with his comic deadpan delivery. While, the more serious drama is left to Douglas and DeNiro as old grudges rear their ugly heads.

It’s funny, at times, hysterical. The best moment for me was Redfoo from LMFAO thrusting his cod piece in De Niro’s stunned face. Some might see it as step down, but hey it was funny . . . and he knows it (What?!).

Las Vegas is beautifully captured in all its glitzy, neon glory. And there were some decent supporting turns from Romany Malco (40 Year Old Virgin) and Mary Steenburgen (Step Brothers). Also, look out for a brilliant cameo from a certain rapper.

Steenburgen’s introduction as the lounge singer felt a little unnecessary and corny BUT it was the perfect trigger to unearth Billy and Paddy’s strained friendship. Revelations and twists predictably on the cards.

BUT all in all, LAST VEGAS was like a overdone lasagne. A little too much cheese spread over it but it was still good to look at and tasty enough to enjoy.

3.5/5

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THE FAMILY REVIEW

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The people who made this will be sleeping with the fishes . . .

The Manzoni family, a notorious mafia clan, is relocated to Normandy, France under the witness protection program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging as their old habits die hard.

With such a strong cast and production team (Martin “GoodfellasScorsese and Luc “Leon” Besson), how could The Family be such a ridiculously unfunny and drawn out affair? De Niro applied his usual gangster schtick BUT to no avail. Especially when we’ve seen him poke fun at himself before and a whole lot better. Just watch Analyze This. Hell, even check out the mediocre sequel.

Luckily De Niro and Pfeiffer were a great pairing. BUT Dianna Agron (Stunning though she is. What?) plays such a flat character. Her silly little love subplot with her French teacher was so cliched. A shame considering the potential she showed during an altercation involving a tennis racket. While John D’Leo’s cocky schoolboy just annoyed the hell out of me.

NOT even Tommy Lee Jones with his hang dog expression could save the day. In fact, he looked just as fed up as I did watching the film.

The plot and tone were all over the place. It took a good hour before anything really made you smile or interested. It stuttered along. Bordering on either ridiculous or just plain dull. Desperate to be dark and funny and failing on both counts.

A mess. For example, Pfeiffer’s Maggie is insulted by the French shopper so she blows up the supermarket?! De Niro’s “Fred” doesn’t like having brown water ooze out of his taps so he beats up a plumber and drags a water company executive across the tarmac. If you found that funny, then give this a go. Believe me, I’m making it sound better.

To be honest, things did improve when Jones and De Niro hooked up. Their exchanges delivered the best lines;

Jones’ Stanfield: “How can I be your friend if you hate me?”

De Niro’s Fred: “You’re alive. Look at my best friends. I killed them all.”

BUT it wasn’t enough. I sat patiently drudging through all this “build up”. Waiting for a ridiculous high octane shoot em up finale. Everything was there, ripe for the taking and for five minutes (That’s right. Five minutes!), my attention was finally piqued. I was finally into it and then it just ended.

The film must have been desperate for jokes because it had to rely on in-jokes. There was one scene in which De Niro and Jones meet at a film screening. The film was Goodfellas. Cue a cheeky wink from the man himself. Some say lazy, I say needed. It got a smile out of me.

Besson should have taken lessons from the fantastic TV show Lillyhammer with Steven van Zandt. The premise had so much potential and failed so badly. That cast must have needed the money. Good moments does not a good movie make!

 

2/5