The film opens in 1955: street-wise kids learning how to survive in Flatbush.
The scene changes to "58 years later". Kevin Kline is among the genteel living dead in Florida; Robert De Niro is a grumpy old widower, still grieving for his adored wife; Morgan Freeman is being treated as a fragile invalid after a minor stroke; and Michael Douglas is celebrating being close to seventy by proposing to his 30 year old fiancée, at a funeral, no less.
The stag party and the wedding is planned for Vegas. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" meets "Quartet" meets "The Bucket List".
With five Oscar winners in the cast, you expect to be entertained. And we are. With a gentle beginning, to establish the characters, we proceed to Vegas, where we meet Mary Steenburgen who, at 60, becomes the pivot of the movie – a witty, attractive, "earthed" lady, who is doing what she wants to do – singing in Vegas - and who takes no nonsense from the gang.
Will the grumpy old widower thaw? Will Kevin Kline, given a free pass by his wife to sow belated wild oats in Vegas, actually do so? Will Morgan Freeman gain his independence from his smothering family? Will Michael Douglas tie the knot? And will the friends grow together again?
We hardly need to ask – and the film is tacky in parts, predictable throughout, and cloyingly sentimental at times. And yet, even including the "first bachelor party that could be covered by Medicaid", it works well.
Don't expect great depth, or wonderful insights about ageing. Loyalty, however, is there in spades, and each character inhabits their part with panache.
This film may not be profound or memorable, but it is enjoyable.