Last Vegas (Blu-ray Review)

On the surface, after seeing multiple television spots initially, Last Vegas appeared to be nothing more than a cash grab at the box office as the older generation’s version of the wildly popular first entry in the franchise, The Hangover.  Heck, it’s even about four friends and a bachelor party in Vegas!  How much more convincing can that as an initial assessment possibly be?  And guess what?!  The movie poster’s tagline even read that “it’s going to be legendary.”  I got to be honest with you.  I feel like I hit a grand slam here with my initial way of thinking.  The Hangover involved four guys, Las Vegas, a bachelor party and it was…L-E-G-E-N-D-A-R-Y.  However, I digress and won’t throw anymore jabs.  We’re always taught in life not to judge a book by it’s cover so instead of speculating and trading zingy one-liners, let’s roll the dice and find out how Last Vegas is!


So here we are for the old folks version of The Hangover starring the modern day rat pack of Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Kevin Kline and Morgan Freeman as four friends in their late sixties who decide to have a bachelor party in Las Vegas for Billy (Douglas), the last of them to be getting married, and things get complicated by Diana (Mary Steenburgen), a Sin City lounge singer.  Armed with just that sentence I could probably stop there and you would know all you need to know about the film going in, but I wouldn’t be doing my job as a reviewer if I slighted you in that way.  Besides, don’t you want to know how funny a rated PG-13 film in Vegas can really be?  Yes, you read that right.  I said a rated PG-13 film.  I probably should have stopped there, huh?  Well at least you know if nothing else, the movie has weighted star power and charisma going for it.  That much…I can guarantee you!

When I reviewed this theatrically I initially titled my review “Four Friends and a Funeral.”  Well, that title may have been a little misleading.  I’ll drop a spoiler on you.  There was not a funeral.  Oh yeah!  I forgot there actually was!  That was actually what propelled us into Act 2 too!  However, for most of the runtime, initially it felt like I was at a funeral.  It wasn’t because the movie was boring, slow or overly tame (although it was a little of the latter), but it was because of the fact that I was looking at real life versions of what I will most likely become some thirty-years from now and it scares the bejesus out of me to think that way.  I grew up with all these actors in films I love and to see them now like this, taking medications left and right and guts hanging out, just makes me sad.  I’m sorry.  I can’t help it.  It made me think of how fast life goes by and if you can to live every moment to the fullest like it’s your last.  But how?  So much of our lives we are trapped doing things we don’t want to just to survive on a monthly basis and pay bills.  Not all of us were born with a silver spoon in our mouths.  How do you enjoy life still?  I guess that’s the “age old” question, isn’t it?  Simply put, most of us never do enjoy life and before we know it we’re in an early grave or others are around us.  Depressing huh?  But so true!  But that was my first take on the film.  After putting some distance and time between that initial screening, being able to think about it more clearly and even checking it out again for this Blu-ray review, I’m more of a fan of this film because of it.  I can laugh with it too!  After all, it’s a romantic comedy ladies and gentlemen directed by Jon Turteltaub.

However, it still stands.  Last Vegas is a tame film as I kind of already made mention to above.  You knew that going in with the PG-13 rating.  I think if it was R, I could have let myself go with this one over and over, much like that of The Hangover, and have so much of a better/raunchier time doing so.  Things are played safe here, but you kind of have to.  You’re bound by a rating.  But come on!  You have four horny old men stomping around the wilderness of Vegas.  You think you can have a good time with a PG-13 rating here?  I managed to.  I obviously wanted and I expected nothing less than the raunchiness of The Hangover, but I simply didn’t get it.  So you have to make do with what you are given to play with.  Yes, there were some good jokes here and there, but let’s face it.  This movie was made for that rare older quadrant and if you train your mind/expectations and choose to go in with that mindset, I don’t think you will be disappointed.  However, I will warn you of the following.  Titanic showed more skin than a movie set in Las Vegas about a bachelor party.  I’ll let you chew on that for a moment to see if my PG-13 ranting finally sinks in and is warranted/justified.

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Now that’s not to say that Last Vegas is a bad movie as I felt I kind of already made that point over and over.  In fact, it’s far from being the bad movie I really expected it to be when I first arrived to the press screening and hardly saw anybody there.  Usually those things are packed.  Usually die hard moviegoers camp out for these screenings.  But that wasn’t the case this for this one.  However, that’s okay because Last Vegas is warm, heartfelt, endearing and even charming at times.  It has taught me important lessons in life and made me laugh from time-to-time.  Would I say spend top dollar to purchase this on the Blu-ray format?  No, I would not.  But if you are a fan of these guys and up in your years, I say what the heck.  Make sure you check this one out!  I don’t think you will be disappointed.  I was not, BOTH TIMES…and that’s saying a lot.  The chemistry between these four “legendary” screen actors is what truly made this a film to see, not to mention the always attractive Las Vegas setting that I can’t wait to revisit again sometime in the future.

Personally, I took the following from Last Vegas.  Life is too short to squander “all” of your savings and worry about things that may or may not happen.  You have one chance to live it.  So whether you are on skid row or whether you are lucky and your parents pay for your life, enjoy it.  However, please don’t flaunt it.  If you constantly got to tell your 10 friends who actually really read your Facebook newsfeed what you are doing every moment in life, then you are not living it.  You’re dead to me.  Take your poops in private!

Last Vegas is full of hope and upward challenges and emotionally teaches us that it’s never too late to have what you want in life, but more importantly, cherish the love ones, friends and loyalty you have in your life.  You know who those people are.  Don’t ever let stupid little things get between you.  You don’t have to be a priest, but keep in mind that even little lies, which we don’t think will hurt, always feel like a bee sting when exposed.  Remember that and you’ll be fine.  Enjoy the show!  But wait!!!  Don’t you want to talk about the audio/video presentation and special features to be found here on the Blu-ray release?  Sure you do!

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Man, do things ever look good here!  Sony does one hell of a bang up job bringing out the clarity, glitz and glam of the Las Vegas night life and even daytime scenes too in this picture perfect 1080p AVC MPEG-4 video encode framed in a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio.  From the intentional vintage look in the beginning frames to the neon Vegas skyline, I’m head over heels in love with this presentation, hence the immaculate score here.  The print sports fine detail, three-dimensional depth levels, deep, inky black levels and best of all tan bikini-clad bodies in the pool scene.  Hell yeah!  And don’t worry, I did not forget to mention all of Morgan Freeman’s facial freckles prominently on display as well as Michael Douglas donning a bright orange spray on tan.  So with the exception of the latter, all skin tones look natural throughout.  And best of all, there’s not a speck of dirt, blemish or debris to be found anywhere in this razor sharp picture.  Two thumbs way up, Sony.  Two thumbs up!

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Taking cues from the perfect video presentation on display here comes a mostly satisfying outing for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track.  In actuality, it’s one you would not ordinarily expect from a genre of this kind, not to mention the age genre this one is targeted for.  LOL.  Of course you have to expect this one is going to be very front heavy due to the nature of how comedies are represented.  The most important factor to concern yourself with is how good can you hear the dialog.  I’m pleased to report that there’s not one word you’ll strain to hear and/or understand in this Blu-ray audio track.  The poppy score also adds another dimensional layer of enjoyment to this audio presentation, not to mention the glorious sounds of Vegas that come to life all around you.  You picking up what I’m dropping here?  It’s not the best Blu-ray surround track of the 2014, but if you like the hustle, bustle, bells, whistles and partygoers of Vegas, you’re going to be happy with this one.  I promise you.  Would I intentionally steer you wrong?  I know this one is not necessarily audio related, well it’s kind of, but also selectable via the Blu-ray disc’s menus are subtitles for English, English SDH and Spanish.

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Let’s be honest for a moment.  The special features contained here on this Blu-ray release are really nothing to write home about.  There may look like there’s a wealth of extras here, but don’t let the short runtime of those deceive you.  I’m just glad there’s a Digital Copy to be had here.  So without anymore proverbial ado, let’s just dive on in and see what we can find in this water.  After you…

 There are three featurettes that are exclusive to this Blu-ray release:

  • Shooting in Sin City (HD, 2:48) – Explore the grand scale re-creation of present day Las Vegas and shooting techniques used to capture its vibe as we are escorted behind a few scenes, including remarks about the exciting roller coaster ride atop the Stratosphere casino.
  • The Redfoo Party (HD, 1:50) – Dive into a fun pool party scene showcasing Redfoo of LMFAO and the cast.  Need I say more?  For anyone looking for skin in this film, this is one of the best you’re going to get, the poolside bikini contest our main characters are luckily thrusted into judging.
  • Supporting Ensemble (HD, 2:21) – Get an introduction to the funny supporting cast members and special guest cameos (3 of them) who helped to inject comedy within this film.  No spoilers!  It’s a short one anyway.  So just watch!

Bonus Features on the Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD Include:

  • Filmmaker Commentary – This audio commentary features director Jon Turteltaub and writer Dan Fogelman.  I don’t know how you feel about this, but it’s a shame they could not get all four of the main actors in a room for this.  I would love to hear them dish out what really went on during filming and what not, wouldn’t you?  However, with all that being said, I did listen to this commentary and it was very effective in delivering a behind the scenes process of how the film was made, the story, the shoots, etc.  I’ll forgive it because it was so informative.
  • It’s Going to be Legendary (HD, 3:14) – A behind-the-scenes look at the production of the film with commentary from the main cast and the director.
  • Four Legends (HD, 2:58) – A look at the ensemble main cast and their insights on working with one another on such a comedic film.  I bet you can guess what four actors we are talking about here, right?
  • The Flatbush Four (HD, 1:37) – Here we have a candid glimpse at the character arcs of the four main characters in the film.  Obviously *SPOILER ALERT* they were known as The Flatbush Four.  We also take a look at the youngsters who portray them in their youth within the film.

And happy, happy, joy, joy!  We have a second disc, which is a DVD, that houses a Standard Definition version of the film.  And yes!  There’s also a redemption code for the UltraViolet Digital HD version of the film.  I welcome these so much more than a DVD.  Who uses a DVD anymore?  Anyway, I digress.  Moving on…

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So obviously I’m rounding up here because if you average the four scores up above, you’ll realize that it comes out to be like 3.8 or something.   However, as I have now watched this over 3 times I can admit to the fact that this movie seems to improve with each additional viewing.   That’s a good thing, right?  Of course it is!  And as long as we are being truthful with ourselves, let’s come clean on a couple things here that make this a Blu-ray to own.

1. There’s that “legendary” cast!

2. A killer Blu-ray A/V presentation for a comedy!

3. It takes place in the magical land of Las Vegas!

and oh what the hell…

4. It’s a pretty good flick that one can appreciate and have fun with despite the PG-13 rating.

Last Vegas doesn’t come out until January 28th, but don’t let that stop you from pre-ordering via the link here to ensure this one is waiting on your doorstep after you come home from a hard day of work next Tuesday.


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