The best thing that can be said about this tripe, which has been cooked to a traditional recipe, is that it at least caters to the otherwise neglected but growing demographic of old codgers.
Sam (Kevin Kline) is the first of the boyhood buddies that we meet. Retired to Florida, he’s now seventy and doing aquarobics with a group of fellow ancients. He turns to the withered crone next to him and says, ‘I’m sorry. Was that your foot I trod on? Or your breast?’
Next is Billy (Michael Douglas) in Malibu, the gang’s fake-tan Lothario, explaining to Archie (Morgan Freeman) in New Jersey that the age of his bride-to-be does not make him a cradle-snatcher. ‘She’s nearly thirty-two,’ he pleads. ‘I’ve got a haemorrhoid that’s nearly thirty-two,’ Archie replies drily. I laughed out loud at that one, but it’s all downhill from there.
For Kline, Douglas, Freeman and Robert De Niro, who is recalcitrant Paddy, this is a doddle. The boys have a stags’ reunion in Las Vegas before Billy’s nuptials, at which point the obvious suspicion is that we are going to get The Hangover for the Viagra generation.
But the gross-out never eventuates – excessive swearing and binge-drinking are replaced by a string of corny gags and a homage to Las Vegas which, to an outsider who has never had the slightest inclination to go there, only confirms its status as a zombieland of glittering crassness.
The thread holding it all together does its vital job, however. Widowed Paddy has issues with Billy, who, despite their shared childhood, couldn’t find the time to attend the funeral of Paddy’s wife.
The rapprochement between the two men encounters another hurdle when both are attracted to Diana (Mary Steenburgen), a nightclub singer who has been around the traps but retained her heart of gold.
All four guys’ journey is fruitful, none of them do anything bad, and the resolution of the central provocation is as mushy as you always knew it would be.
~ John Campbell