CRUMBLIES…. 4 crumblies

Now this is a comforting film for men in their middle years! You will get old, yes. There will be facial, prostatic and erectile dysfunction, yes. Your health and lovers will abandon you or die, yes. But, keep your life-long friends on speed-dial and you will get glory days in Las Vegas where hordes of splendidly under-dressed young women will adore your wisdom and cracking one-liners. There will be bikini competitions to judge!  I’d apply the rule of three here, but – THERE WILL BE BIKINI COMPETITIONS TO JUDGE!

Brief pause.

Life can be good.

Unpause.

So…get ready to clear the common room of the young and your female relatives. For their tutting and criticism will block the joy of this film.  Auteurs Jon Turteltaub and Dan Fogelman have taken everything old Jack hated about The Hangover and made it fit for middle-aged men to bask in. This film – superficial, facile, fantasy-laden pap and all – is a lot like dreams I intend to have in the sheltered accommodation reading room.

Four grouchy old friends-since-Brooklyn come together to celebrate the impending wedding of Michael Douglas to a woman less than half his age. They greet each other with cheeriness (Prick! Asshole!) and slowly let go of ancient grievances as the parties, pool dances and mighty hotel rooms take over their weekend.

De Niro gives off curmudgeonly pain throughout, before switching to the Generic-Making-a-Buck-Characterisation of all his recent films. His is the saddest and sweetest of the stories. And he talks to a mirror, film fans.

Morgan Freeman is the renewed, ill parent throwing off the trap of his own worried off-spring. And, for all the sharp lines and gags, he tosses the life lessons to the kids with gentlemanly warmth.

Kevin Kline is the old married man, needing the change to remember the real love of his life. He skips through the film as though he means to act on the loose leash given him by his wife, but doles out the total lack of surprises with grace and proper charm: especially when the beautiful girl with Daddy-issues comes nakedly at him in the bedroom.

And Douglas – all sparkly teeth and orange of skin – conveys the guilt of the successfully empty with the same skill as the entire movie does its plot.

Charm. Grace. Warmth. These four are the film. They blast lifetimes of character acting in a masterclass of flirting with old fans and old formulae.

For, yes, this is a big, colourful, utterly charming roll call of sunshine and male fantasy. It’s a fact: men are sexy, funny, attractive to women of all ages. But it knows we crave the arrival of our appropriately aged, sexy companion-woman. Make that beautiful. And by beautiful I mean Mary Steenburgen.

When the ghost of Mrs Jack pops her head into the TV room as he rewatches Last Vegas this Christmas, I hope she’s as warm, insightful and forgiving as Steenburgen’s Diana. For she is the thing missing from all these old men’s lives: an attended and attention-grabbing woman who offers smart companionship and simple love.

Film: funny.

Male fantasy: dutifully honoured.

Worth watching? Oh yes.

Prick.

Asshole!