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Film: "Last Vegas"; Cast: Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Michael Ealy and Mary Steenburgen; Director: Jon Turteltaub; Rating: *** - heartwarming and touching.

"Last Vegas" is a funny, heartwarming and a touching buddy film about ageing and male bonding whose premise is so very much like the 2009 released film "The Hangover". But unlike in "The Hangover", these four buddies are geriatrics who jam up after 58 years of separation.

The story involves the "Flatbush four"; Sammy (Kevin Kline), Archie (Morgan Freeman), Paddy (Robert De Niro) and Billy (Michael Douglas). They are childhood friends from Brooklyn, who now over the years have settled in their routine. Sammy lives with his wife in Florida, Archie with his grown-up son's family in New Jersey, the widowed Paddy in Brooklyn and the flamboyant bachelor Billy in Malibu, California.

At a friend's funeral, Billy to make light of the eulogy, proposes to a girl half his age. She accepts the proposal and the wedding is fixed at a short notice. Billy calls Sammy to inform him.

Sammy's impromptu decision to meet at Las Vegas to celebrate the weekend bachelor party ensures that Archie and Paddy join in.

Apart from the obvious, each one comes with their personal agenda and unresolved grudges. After 40 years of marriage, Sammy gets a license to "pep up" his life, after his wife tells him she has no issues, "as long as, what happens in Vegas remains in Vegas". Archie, who had recently suffered a stroke needs to break free from his over protective son (Michael Ealy) and Paddy holds a grouse against Billy for not coming for his beloved wife, Sophie's funeral, a year earlier.

Now with the motivation intact, the script proceeds with a mild bit of drama along with comedy. What follows fluctuates between the predictable and grossly flashy.

The bachelor party as the finale is organised on a grand scale. The invitee list includes buskers, cross-dressers in addition to the dozens of hookers, showgirls and other multifarious characters.

Despite there being nothing original in Dan Fogelman's script, he manages some amusing visual gags and one-liners along the way. The jokes are clean and loaded with geriatric seasoning that are refined and do not recourse to unwanted crudities. They deal with getting older in a very funny, but sensitive way.

The stand-out aspect of "Last Vegas" is the outstanding performances. The top-shelf cast plays in harmony, and each actor gets a confident solo to remind the audience how effortlessly he can shine. Apart from the four ace stars is the Oscar-winner Mary Steenburgen who plays the failing, lusty lounge singer Diana. Together, their collective appeal wipes off all the flaws of the script.

Overall, "Last Vegas" is a satisfying film that has a feel good factor. So just sit back and enjoy the great charming actors at work. None of them disappoint. Director Jon Turteltaub has managed to deliver a superfluous yet engaging entertainer that is easy to charm.

IANS

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