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Movies for Grownups

'Last Vegas,' Baby!

Good thing what’s made in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas — notably this elderbuddy romp

Rating: PG-13     Running Time: 105 minutes

Stars: Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen            

Director: Jon Turteltaub

Enough with the grandpa jokes, already!

Yes, Last Vegas could fairly be described as The Hangover for the AARP set. So what's wrong with that?

No one would argue that The Hangover wasn't hilarious, which is how I'd describe Last Vegas. Nor would anyone dare suggest that older folks don't like to laugh inside a movie theater. Besides, Last Vegas showcases a quartet of Hollywood legends (six Oscars and two Tonys among them) interacting with one another on the big screen for the first time. And the story offers a couple of serious-but-sweet messages to boot: the timelessness of friendship, the fact that anyone can fall in love at any age, and the truism that you're never too old to party.

Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro and Michael Douglas star in Last Vegas. (Courtesy Chuck Zlotnick/CBS Film)

Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas pal around in "Last Vegas." — Chuck Zlotnick/CBS Film

Writer Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love) tells the endearing story of four childhood pals from Brooklyn who are now in their 60s. Though scattered about the country, they've "been there for each other" through major milestones. And despite some recent tension between two of the four, they're all still fast friends.

Director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) uses smart casting to bring these characters to life.

Billy (Michael Douglas), the most successful of the bunch, lives a glitzy life in Malibu and is finally getting married — to a woman of just 31. Hearing the news, Sam (Kevin Kline) hatches a plan to reunite the "Flatbush Four," as the guys were known back in the day, in Las Vegas for a bachelor party of sorts. Archie (Morgan Freeman, flaunting his comedic chops) buys in immediately. But the most serious of the foursome, Paddy (Robert De Niro), will need to be coaxed into it; he's kinda mad at Billy for a perceived slight.

(Check out AARP The Magazine's cover story and behind-the-scenes photo shoot video starring the Last Vegas foursome.)

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Turns out each of these elderstuds has "a couple of unresolved issues." Billy's got too much money — and a fondness for women too young for him. Sam and his wife have just relocated to a Florida retirement community, convincing him he's got one foot in the grave. Archie is on the mend after a recent stroke but resents being "babysat" by his grown son. As for Paddy — the only one who never left Brooklyn — he's just lost his wife, who was his high school sweetheart. Salt in the wound: Billy couldn't be bothered to show up for the funeral.

Rising above all this, the guys rally for a weekend of heavy drinking and lessons learned. (Sam has been sent west with a vial of Viagra and a permission slip from his wife, along with orders to "return reenergized.") Offering to dispense more than a few of those lessons is a lounge singer named Diana, deliciously rendered by Mary Steenburgen; she mesmerizes all four guys — and sings the hell out of this role.

Fun Video: The delicate matter of bedroom enhancing drugs

Last Vegas suffers from a few needless subplots, and the movie is what it is. If you like the trailer (which you can watch at the top of this page), you'll want to see the film; if you don't, you won't. Unlike the city itself, Last Vegas doesn't strain too hard for effect: Kline and Freeman expertly deliver the expected old-guy jokes, while Douglas and De Niro serve as more sober-sided foils. And the Vegas setting is captured to fabulous perfection.

Life's too serious. This movie is 100 percent fun.

Meg Grant is West Coast Editor of AARP The Magazine.

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