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Last Vegas: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Review

Last Vegas (2013) movie poster Last Vegas

Theatrical Release: November 1, 2013 / Running Time: 105 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Jon Turteltaub / Writer: Dan Fogelman

Cast: Michael Douglas (Billy Gherson), Robert De Niro (Paddy Connors), Morgan Freeman (Archie Clayton), Kevin Kline (Sam Harris), Mary Steenburgen (Diana Boyle), Jerry Ferrara (Dean), Romany Malco (Lonnie), Roger Bart (Maurice Tischler), Joanna Gleason (Miriam), Michael Ealy (Ezra Clayton), Bre Blair (Lisa), April Billingsley (Maid of Honor), Andrea Moore (Bachelorette), Noah Harden (Young Billy), RJ Fattori (Young Paddy Colson), Aaron Bantum (Young Archie Clayton), Phillip Wampler (Young Sam Harris), Olivia Stuck (Young Sophie), Ashley Spillers (Elizabeth), Curtis Jackson (Himself), Redfoo (Himself)

Buy Last Vegas from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet DVD + UltraViolet Instant Video

When women reach a certain age, typically 40, movie roles begin to dry up. No matter how accomplished the actress, there's the chance to play the leading lady's mother in romantic comedies and not much else. Seasoned men don't face the same scarcity of substantial roles,
allowing premier actors to maintain visibility into their seventies. Still, men always have the opportunity to play up their old age for laughs.

For every The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, there are five movies like Last Vegas, an ensemble comedy about old men being old. The four lead roles of this film directed by Jon Turteltaub (the National Treasure series, Cool Runnings) and written by Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love., Tangled) are filled with Academy Award-winning actors. Michael Douglas takes top billing, while Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline follow alphabetically before the title.

Though ten years noticeably separates the oldest (Freeman) from the youngest (Kline) in the group, the movie asks us to buy the fact that these four are the same age and were best friends in childhood. The boys grew up in Brooklyn, where they called themselves the Flatbush Four and while they've since dispersed around the nation, they keep in touch, with one exception. Billy (Douglas) and Paddy (De Niro) haven't spoken since Billy missed Paddy's wife's funeral.

Lifelong friends (Kevin Kline, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, and Morgan Freeman) whoop it up as bikini contest judges in "Last Vegas."

Now, the orange-skinned, tan-haired lifelong bachelor Billy has proposed to his 31-year-old girlfriend (Bre Blair) while speaking at a friend's funeral. His buddies Archie (Freeman) and Sam (Kline) decide to treat him to a bachelor's party weekend in Las Vegas and they coax still-mourning homebody Paddy to come along too, not knowing the reason for the getaway or that this reunion will include Billy.

Vegas has dramatically changed since these four retirees last visited. The hotel they failed to make reservations at isn't functioning as a hotel. But a lounge singer named Diana (Mary Steenburgen) catches their eye and they, hers. There's no question whether the 60-year-old Steenburgen (only six years younger than Kline) will function as a love interest; the only uncertainty is for whom. Billy and Paddy are the two obvious targets and their mutual interest dregs up the related, ancient source of their current feud.

Armed with hearing aids and high blood pressure, these horny old men ogle at young women as judges of a bikini contest inexplicably hosted by LMFAO's Redfoo. Archie, who has snuck out by telling his son (Michael Ealy) he's with a church group, manages to turn $15,000 of his pension money into $102,000 at the blackjack table, improbably funding the excursion and landing the guys a penthouse villa and their own personal VIP attendant (Romany Malco). Sam tries to find a woman on whom he can redeem the condom and hall pass his wife (Joanna Gleeson) has given him.

Billy Gherson (Michael Douglas) hits on a lounge singer (Mary Steenburgen) only slightly younger than himself, which is a big deal to the filmmakers in the audio commentary. "No one calls us names except for us," reminds Paddy (Robert De Niro) in a line echoed from the film's 1950s-set prologue.

The entirety of Last Vegas is a parade of "Old men, huh?" jokes. None of them are inspired, no matter how many times these actors have charmed us in other films. The depiction of the PG-13 Sin City is like an old man's fantasy, where busty young women abound and, though they crack grandpa jokes,
they still don't mind partying with these geezers. The big party is attended by everyone from transvestite celebrity impersonators to Cirque du Soleil performers, while the attendant's original assignment (a cameo-making 50 Cent) gets turned away.

One doesn't gain a huge appreciation for the personalities of these four men, which are secondary to evenly dividing corny comedy about Red Bull Vodkas and fanny packs. One of the least funny and most belabored bits is a running gag involving an obnoxious young man ("Entourage"'s Jerry Ferrara) who turns into an apologetic (and gullible) gofer when told that these men are feared old gangsters.

A movie for and by old people, Last Vegas delivered a rare hit for CBS Films, earning nearly $64 million domestically (and an additional $54 M overseas) on a $28 million budget. That's the highest gross to date for the studio that has largely failed to turn profit on its mid-sized movie strategy.

Unfortunately, we don't get the enjoyable film that such a strong public response indicates. The product is more reflective of the mixed reviews drawn. It's more on the order of a Wild Hogs or Stand Up Guys than The Hangover.

One expects better, not only from that seasoned cast but from the two younger men behind this material. The promise of Fogelman's screenwriting has quickly begun to fade with such stale, quickly forgotten comedies as The Guilt Trip and this, not to mention his moribund ABC alien sitcom "The Neighbors." Those who oversung the praises of Crazy, Stupid, Love. are probably changing their tune, though his upcoming directorial debut, Imagine starring Al Pacino, offers a slim chance of redemption. Turteltaub has long been underrated as a director, probably because he's largely made films where either the story or the producer Jerry Bruckheimer overshadowed his work. His first movie outside of Disney since the early '90s, Last Vegas is also one of his weakest to date, the crude, lowbrow material being immune to his workmanlike direction.

Last Vegas gets to follow its fruitful fall theatrical release with tomorrow's DVD and Blu-ray combo editions from CBS Films' home video partner Sony.

Watch clips from Last Vegas:
Archie Escapes VIP Suite Bottle Service

Last Vegas Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
BD: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Two single-sided discs (1 BD-25 & 1 DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $40.99
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($30.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Blu-ray's picture and sound are every bit as stellar as Sony's in-house movies. There's nothing old about the sharp 2.40:1 transfer and lively 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack.

Morgan Freeman discusses being part of a legendary cast in a couple of making-of featurettes. Director Jon Turteltaub talks "Shooting in Sin City", but discloses in the commentary that the film was also shot in Atlanta.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

A survey of the package or menu makes Last Vegas look loaded with supplements. In fact, though, the movie is joined primarily by a number of promotional making-of shorts
that make overuse of trailer clips and music.

The first of such HD inclusions is "It's Going to Be Legendary" (3:14), which has the actors describe their characters and discuss director Jon Turteltaub.

"Shooting in Sin City" (2:48) addresses Las Vegas and how it's changed since these guys were last here (a topic you barely pick up on watching the film).

"Four Legends" (2:58) celebrates the cast, allowing them to express their admiration for one another and note that, though none of them ever worked with one another before, they had a great time doing so here.

"The Redfoo Party" (1:50) talks up the bikini contest scene, with remarks from the LMFAO singer and Playboy Playmates featured within it.

Actor Jerry Ferrara is one of two supporting players singled out in "Supporting Ensemble." The leading men take turns on the menu, each treated to their own montage.

"The Flatbrush Four" (1:37) briefly touches upon the opening sequence set in the 1950s.

"Supporting Ensemble" (2:21) acknowledges the work of Jerry Ferrara and Romany Malco.

More substantial than the lot of them is an audio commentary by director Jon Turteltaub and writer Dan Fogelman.

Fogelman clarifies he wrote this before The Hangover and acknowledges Turteltaub's significant creative input. Turteltaub shares secrets of the business, including getting the most out of baby actors, working with big stars whose body of work influences our perception, and cost-cutting measures, like having Atlanta stand in for Vegas at times. The two admit that parts were rewritten (the Madonna impersonator was originally Sammy Davis Jr. and that character had more of a storyline cut-out) and reshot (an unstated Kevin Kline joke that would have earned an R rating, which they feared would have turned off the geriatric audience). Their candor makes this a rewarding listen even if they're prouder of the film than they should be. Disappointingly, the cuts and edits they discuss are absent from the disc.

The combo pack's second disc, the same DVD sold on its own, includes the commentary, "It's Going to be Legendary", "Four Legends", and "The Flatbush Four", but not the other three shorts, despite having room for them.

Each disc opens with an UltraViolet promo and trailers for Blue Jasmine, Bad Country, and Captain Phillips. To the latter three, the Previews menus add trailers for Cold Comes the Night and Inside Llewyn Davis. Though excerpted extensively in the extras, Last Vegas' own trailer is not included in its entirety.

Each disc's colorful menu cycles through the four lead characters with clips of them. Like other Sony BDs, this one supports bookmarks and resumes playback too.

Topped by a glossy slipcover, the side-snapped keepcase lacks the usual reverse side artwork but adds sweepstakes and Digital HD UltraViolet inserts to the silver DVD and full-color Blu-ray discs.

The Flatbush Four (Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, and Kevin Kline) pose as old gangsters to a young man's fright in "Last Vegas."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Despite its cast's fine pedigree, Last Vegas is a corny and uninspired series of old men jokes that fails to entertain with any regularity. Its moderate box office success seems more attributable to star power and the target demographic's taste for PG-13 comedy than the film's value.

Those who enjoyed the movie should appreciate this combo pack, which delivers sterling picture and sound plus a light but satisfying collection of extras. For those who haven't seen it, a rental with guarded expectations ought to suffice.

Buy Last Vegas from Amazon.com: Blu-ray Combo / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Stand Up Guys Wild Hogs Old Dogs Grown Ups The Hangover Knocked Up Paradise
Directed by Jon Turteltaub: Phenomenon National Treasure The Sorcerer's Apprentice National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Written by Dan Fogelman: The Guilt Trip The Neighbors: The Complete First Season Crazy, Stupid, Love. Tangled
Michael Douglas: Behind the Candelabra Solitary Man Ghosts of Girlfriends Past | Robert De Niro: Everybody's Fine Silver Linings Playbook
Morgan Freeman: Now You See Me Evan Almighty | Kevin Kline: The Ice Storm No Strings Attached
Mary Steenburgen: One Magic Christmas Step Brothers The Proposal | Jerry Ferrara & Romany Malco: Think Like a Man
New: A.C.O.D. Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa Blue Jasmine In a World... Captain Phillips

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Reviewed January 27, 2014.



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