1955. A fun time if you were a kid. We meet four of them: Billy, Paddy, Archie and Sam. Individually you might not notice them but together they formed a force called the “Flatbush Four!” 58 years later they get together celebrate the wedding of one of their own in Las Vegas. My how things have changed.
When your film boasts a cast that includes no less than (5) Oscar winners, and a Tony Award winner to boot, you’re off to a good start. Now grown up, news spreads that Billy (Douglas) has asked his MUCH younger girlfriend to marry him. That he popped the question while giving a eulogy at a friend’s funeral doesn’t seem to faze him. Archie (Kline) and Sam (Freeman) head to NYC to pick up Paddy (De Niro). Paddy’s wife has recently passed away. For reasons unknown Billy did not attend the funeral and Paddy is still angry with him. However, it isn’t every day that your 70-year old friend gets married for the first time. Soon the Flatbush Four are reunited in Sin City, where what happens there stays there.
I was trying to think if any other film had ever featured five Academy Award winners in major roles. All I could think of was 1972’s “The Poseidon Adventure,” though technically Gene Hackman won his Oscar (for “The French Connection”) during filming. “Last Vegas” boasts its four male leads and the still beautiful Mary Steenburgen as a lounge singer who catches both Paddy and Billy’s eye. Each character has a reason for being here. Billy, obviously, who’s the groom to be. Archie, who is afraid that he actually IS “old” – having previously had hip and knee replacement surgery can do that to a person. Sam, who since suffering a minor stroke some time ago is constantly babied by his caring but overbearing son. And Paddy, who needs this trip the most. He married his childhood sweetheart and after 50 years with one person it’s hard to adjust to something, and someone, new.
Each character is perfectly cast. These actors are masters at the tops of their game, with over 200 years of experience between them. And it is their experiences, both on and off screen, that allow them to deliver here. Whether they’re reminiscing about old times, judging a bikini contest with members of LMFAO or trying to pick up a Madonna-impersonator (Roger Bart, the Tony Award winner I told you about), the performances are true. Director Turtletaub, probably best known for his “National Security” films, keeps the story flowing smoothly while cinematographer David Hennings captures the bright lights and neon rainbows of Las Vegas.