You don't have to be staring down retirement to enjoy Jon Turtletaub's Last Vegas (2013), especially if you're a fan of the talent involved. Its most notable strength is the participation of Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline as the center of its ensemble cast; though none of this quartet had ever worked with one another, they carry the weight of this Hangover-esque comedy with ease. These living legends portray "The Flatbush Four", a group of lifelong friends who have gradually drifted apart in recent years. Billy (Douglas) enjoys success but feels lonely in his old age. Paddy (De Niro) has become a shut-in after losing his wife of more than 40 years. Archie (Freeman) has a doting, overprotective son. Sam (Kline) has relocated to Florida and grown tired of water aerobics and his marriage.
Everyone's routine is interrupted once Billy gets engaged to a woman less than half his age; upon receiving the news, Archie and Sam decide to throw him a long-overdue bachelor party in Las Vegas. Sadly, some recent friction between Billy and Paddy has worn their friendship almost completely down to nothing, so it's up to the other two to coax him on this last-minute trip. Once the four are reunited in Sin City, their mutual attraction to lovely lounge singer Diane (Mary Steenburgen)---not to mention Billy's impending marriage to a woman he barely knows---will test their lifelong bond in unexpected ways. For once, "what happens in Vegas" will probably stay with them for the rest of their lives.
At its core, Last Vegas simply tries to be The Hangover for anyone who can't name a single artist on the Top 40 chart. A seemingly non-stop number of "Bingo and Bengay" jokes are here to remind us that, yes, the stars of such films as Taxi Driver, Wall Street, Glory. and Sophie's Choice are well, getting older like everyone else. Luckily, the film's heart---not to mention, of course, the talents of its core cast members---is strong enough to keep Last Vegas chugging along. It's pleasing enough the first time around and, more likely than not, will hold up just fine to repeat viewings. There's nothing flagrantly wrong with it, but this episodic adventure still feels like it's treading water somewhere between Meet the Fockers and The Bucket List. Even so, for a "victory lap" PG-13 film, you could do a lot worse.
Sony's combo pack offers a decent enough level of support, though the forgettable bonus features (aside from a solid audio commentary) are easily outpaced by the Blu-ray's excellent A/V presentation. While those unfamiliar with Last Vegas may want to rent this one first, anyone old enough to remember the cast's "glory days" may want to indulge.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Sony's got a fantastic track record with new and catalog Blu-rays, so it's no surprise that Last Vegas looks picture-perfect in high definition. Presented in its original 2.40:1 aspect ratio, there's a fantastic amount of image detail and a rich color palette on display, from neon nightclub haze to the warmer tones of the Flatbush Four's formative years. Most folks couldn't care less if their comedies are rich with detail and texture---those are reserved for big action spectacles, you know---but the memorable images look terrific in 1080p whether you're actively familiar with Las Vegas or not. No digital imperfections were spotted along the way, rounding out the visual presentation perfectly.
DISCLAIMER: These compressed and resized screen captures are strictly decorative and do not represent this title's native 1080p resolution.
Not to be outdone is the excellent DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, which does a fine job of replicating the city's bustling, energetic atmosphere. Mark Mothersbaugh's score also benefits nicely, frequently filling the rear channels or simply offering a bit of tasteful support. Even so, Last Vegas is obviously a dialogue-driven affair more often than not; the bulk of what's spoken is easy to understand, even if it's hiding under a layer of slot machine sounds or thumping club music. All told, it's a strong effort that doesn't call attention to itself unless needed. Optional English, English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included, while a portion of the bonus features are also subtitled in English as well.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
The basic menu interface (as seen in DVD form above) is smooth and easy to navigate in both formats, while the requisite ads, logos and warning screens are easy enough to bypass. A numbered chapter selection menu is also present. This two-disc set is packaged in a dual-hubbed keepcase; also included is a matching slipcover, a promotional insert and an Ultraviolet Digital Copy
redemption code. Both discs appear to be locked for region A/1 players only.
Not too much of interest, unfortunately. The best extra by a wide margin is a feature-length Audio Commentary
with director John Turtletaub and writer Dan Fogelman. Both fill the track nicely with personal stories, in-jokes, a few technical notes and, of course, obligatory back-patting and reverence for the ensemble cast. Fogelman admits to being new to commentaries, but Turtletaub does a good job making him feel comfortable during this relaxed, informative session. Though the lack of cast input is unfortunate, fans of the film will definitely want to have a listen.
Aside from the film's Theatrical Trailer, the rest of the extras are pretty much throwaway promotional Featurettes ("It's Going to Be Legendary", "Four Legends", "The Flatbush Four", "Shooting in Sin City" and "Supporting Ensemble", 2-3 minutes apiece). Though the four featured players are on hand and we also get a few glimpses behind the scenes, most of what's here is just repeated film clips and surface-level stuff. Worth a quick run-though, but that's about all.
While it's far more calculated and tame than your average trip to Sin City, Last Vegas has no trouble coasting on the strengths of its ensemble cast. Though they'd never worker together before, De Niro, Douglas, Freeman and Kline have terrific chemistry…at least enough to soften up the film's less necessary moments. At the very least, this film's heart outweighs the softball "Bingo and Bengay" jokes. Sony's Blu-ray offers a decent amount of a support, although its high quality A/V presentation outshines the relatively lackluster bonus features. Those new to the film may want to stick with a rental, but anyone who's already seen Last Vegas should consider this release a safe bet. Recommended.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey by day and film reviewer by night. He also does freelance design work, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs and writing in third person.