Riff: 1! Very last! Time!

December 20th, 2013

Illustration by Tom Gauld

On Xmas Working day, Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone will open in “Grudge Match,” a film about a pair of previous, rival boxers spoiling for a single previous struggle. This may seem to be like an unpromising premise, but maybe the film will make sure you the very same viewers that went for the recent comedy “Last Vegas,” which is about a few AARP-appropriate Brooklyn guys from the old community — one married, a single divorced and 1 widowed — who get together for 1 very last ring-a-ding-ding Vegas weekend to toast the impending marriage of their fourth pal, a holdout bachelor who has spontaneously determined to tie the knot. (Gentle lifestyle lessons ensue.) The truth that the preternaturally tan and swinging groom to be is played by Michael Douglas (age sixty nine) adds a dribble of amusement to the premise. So does the paycheck-amassing participation of getting older motion picture stars like De Niro (him yet again), Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline.

As ingratiating geezer group assignments go, “Last Vegas” would make a swell double characteristic with the 2000 action-drama “Space Cowboys,” in which the elderly former examination pilots Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner share 1 very last blast, rocketing into the mysterious to preserve a failing satellite. (Cosmic existence classes ensue.) Or perhaps a viewer might want to pair the movie with the modern comedy “Stand Up Guys,” in which Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin play Medicare-eligible mobsters who get jointly for a very last hurrah. (Goodfella lifestyle lessons ensue.)

By this stage, you may be noticing a sample.

The enjoyment aims of these stars-of-a-certain-age autos are reasonably modest. But the tagline of “Last Vegas” — “It’s heading to be legendary” — hints at the mini-genre’s a lot more grandiose aims. That declaration reads as a haunting plea fairly than as a jaunty boast, an admission of longing that justifies to be handled with forbearance, especially by girls.

By my rely, “Grudge Match” and “Last Vegas” are the umpteenth tales for gentlemen, about gentlemen and by men in which gentlemen do one thing one particular final time and with the purpose of creating that final time epic. And often, in one particular way or yet another, these men yearn to end time, at minimum for a moment.

Think about the middle-aged suburban crew in the 2007 Dockers-helpful comedy “Wild Hogs” (with John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, Tim Allen and William H. Macy) on a famous motorcycle journey. Or the Gen-X bros in the 2009 aged-frat-boy comedy “The Hangover” (with Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Justin Bartha) on a famous bender. Or the barmy, midlife Brits in the 2013 sci-fi comedy “The World’s End” (with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan) on a legendary crawl with the goal of repeating, and this time finishing, a 12-pub circuit of beer chugging initial tried more than 20 years earlier.

If these Arthurian quests are likely to set a jokey confront on the core mission — Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman (him yet again) are two men dwelling massive and legendary although dying of cancer in “The Bucket List” — the implication is however tinged with pathos: Gentlemen crave 1 last victory ahead of coming to conditions with . . . well, one thing. Demise, I guess. Or, if they are not really Eastwood’s age, possibly they are generating peace with schedule. Duty. Maturity. The previous ball and chain that constitutes dedication. They are hoping that perhaps a single phenomenally exciting night of boozing, flirting, smashing things, driving rapidly, battling, vomiting and slapping 1 yet another on the back will ease the ache of creaking knees, pouching intestine, dimming memory and domestic servitude. Excelsior!

Or one thing like that. I would not know. Because we ladies, we don’t play like that. I cannot feel of 1 motion picture pitched to a feminine viewers in which a gaggle of females or a pair of best gal pals go wild in an energy to recapture inner thoughts of lengthy-past girlish abandon. As opposed to the dissatisfied guys, for example, in the 2010 way-again fantasy “Hot Tub Time Machine” — magically beamed backward to the celebration-hearty several years of the mid-nineteen eighties they all remember so fondly — the title people in, say, the delightful 1997 comedy “Romy and Michele’s Substantial University Reunion” are under no illusions that the old days were the grooviest days. On the contrary, although attending a ten-year college get-together, Romy and Michele (Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino) try out to bogus a single-night-only improvements on their dweeby previous selves to impress the developed females who still loom large in memory as disdainful well-liked women, with regrettable (and hence amusing) results. On-display and in real life, women seem to the future. We go for the ahead-movement makeover, not the backward-glancing do-over.

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