Making the Grades
Billy (Michael Douglas) is getting married. So it’s no surprise his friends want to throw him a bachelor’s party. And (after the success of the Hangover movies) what better place is there to toss together a premarital fete than in Las Vegas. However neither Billy, nor his pals Paddy (Robert De Niro), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline) are your typical stag party participants. All of them are edging toward 70! Yet they still all act like a bunch of adolescents.
Billy’s intended isn’t even half his age. He’s spent a lifetime womanizing and now this rich bachelor is ready to marry what his friends call an “infant” bride.
After suffering a mild stroke, Archie feels like he is under house arrest in his son’s home. But rather than come clean about his plan to reunite with his boyhood friends, he feigns illness and then sneaks out of his bedroom window.
Married for 40 years, Sam’s relationship has grown a little stale. He can hardly believe his luck when his wife (Joanna Gleason) drops him off at the airport, giving him carte blanche to sew his wild oats—with the help of a little blue pill.
Paddy, recently widowed, is less interested in attending. He and Billy are on the outs and have been for a while. However, after some underhanded persuasion he agrees to come.
In a society that covets youth, Last Vegas takes male fantasies to the next generation, letting these aging buddies pretend they are on a kind of spring break. And luckily the script also allows them to earn some quick and easy money at the gambling table. That gives these tourists instant access to a lavish Las Vegas lifestyle the majority of visitors never experience. Wild parties, free flowing alcohol and bikinis that come in double letter sizes are all these men care about. That is until they meet Diana (Mary Steenburgen). The lounge singer is nearer their age than anyone else in town and, having given up a career as a tax accountant, is pursuing her life’s dream in the almost empty hotel club.
One of the film’s most telling comments comes from Billy. He says his head can’t believe how old his body has become. There is both a sense of regret and urgency to that statement. Yet while growing older can have a way of putting life’s achievements (or lack thereof) into perspective, this group’s decision to regress to sophomoric antics doesn’t change their reality.
Although the film has some funny moments aimed at elderly ailments, too many of the jokes are about sex, barely clad women, and getting drunk. As well the script contains frequent profanities, including a strong sexual expletive, and a couple of crass terms repeatedly used as nicknames.
This sentimental look at aging asks audiences to believe that lasting relationships can be formed in 48 hours and that a couple of days in a sun-drenched location can erase health issues and family disappointments. Perhaps more truth would be found in the advice that what happens in Las Vegas is best left unwatched in Last Vegas.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Last Vegas.
What life experiences have these four friends shared? What different life choices have they made?
How has Billy’s approaching birthday made him reflect on his life? What regrets does he have?