Three Days to Vegas
The strange thing about growing old is nobody seems to want to age but no one really wants the alternative, dying. Each year a fortune is spent in an attempt to roll back the constant trek of time. In many cultures the older members of the community are venerated as a source of wisdom. In our society they are just old men and old women. Since the target demographic for most films are younger audiences it is rare that a film about people with a number of decades of life. Producers are certain that such a film will not catch on with the general public. There are some films with an older cast that have become popular such as ‘Grumpy Old Men’, ‘About Schmidt’ and ‘The Bucket List’; the latter two staring one of the all time great actors ever, Jack Nicholson. Now there is another old man flick to hit DVD, ‘Three Days to Vegas’. The film will never be listed as one of this age oriented genre’s best examples but it does work on several levels due mostly to the sheer accumulated talent of the cast. It is about time that Hollywood realizes that life does not end in the thirties or even worse, the twenties. Just because members of the audience are eligible for AARP is no reason not to provide films with characters they can relate to. Okay, I am part of that age group so there is an editorial bias here to some degree. People over fifty can still be talented and deliver a funny film. While this film is far from perfect kudos must be given to the cast and crew for making an attempt.
This film is directed and co-written by Charlie Picerni. It is not unusual for an actor to make the transition to directing. Picerni has a long list of smaller roles in many noteworthy films to his name. What is unusual in this case is Picerni has been in the stunt performer aspect of film making for over three decades. This is in his blood; his uncle was also a sought after stunt man in his day. Picerni was in most action oriented films and television series around. If you look at his resume you would be amazed and the variety of what he has done. He also was smart enough to know that some day he will yield the stunt work to a younger generation. He started directing television episodes for decades but this is his first time at the helm of a feature length film. Picerni has attended the best film school in the world, on set experience. He paid attention well and directs this film in a straight forward fashion that keeps the plot moving.
Picerni had two partners for this script of this movie; Michael Pietrzak and Jon Warner. Pietrzak is new to screen writing; this is his first time writing a film. This is also the case for Mr. Warner. Even though Picerni has been around for many years in film this if also his freshman effort with the script. With three newcomers providing the story you might expect the film to be derivative. To be honest much of the film is predicable and doesn’t depart from the formula at all. What comes to mind here is ‘it is not what you say but how you say it.’ The comic talent of the four older actors is so honed that even a bland script like this seems to work out. This is a combination of two venerable movie genres; the buddy flick and the road trip. Typically road trip movies have been taken over by the youth market with teens or twenty somethings traveling to some sort of wild party. The buddy movies of late are mutigenerational with an older character getting to know the long lost son or daughter. This film does attempt to show that there is life after sixty and that stupid plans are not the sole province of the young.
The film opens in Miami where Gus Fitzgerald’s (Peter Falk) retirement is going along just fine. He is enjoying his life in the sunny shores of Florida hanging out with his friends. There is plenty of fresh air, golf and always a parade of beautiful young girls walking by to make the scenery extra nice. One day Gus is out golfing with his also retired buddies Joe Wallace (Rip Torn), Marvin Jeffries (Bill Cobbs), and Dominic Spinuzzi (George Segal). This day they are joined by Billy Simpson (Billy Burke) who, as usual, is trying to hustle a few bucks on a $20 per hole bet. During the game the guys come across of younger group of men who will not let them play through. The four older golfers pelt the carts of the younger men with expert precision. Just a little lesson, don’t get a group of retired men angry on the golf course. After the game Gus’ daughter Elizabeth (Nancy Young) stops by. After being flirted with by Dominic she tells her father that her friend Laurent Perrier (Chris Diamantopoulos) wants to take him to dinner that night. Billy stops over to make fun of Larry, as they call Laurent, and Elizabeth responds with a quip about Billy’s chronic unemployment. It turns out they used to date long ago. The diner is at a fancy French restaurant which is not something that Gus enjoys. Larry, I mean Laurent, is on the pompous side getting upset that they restaurant expects him to use pepper in a shaker instead of having fresh ground. Since Laurent is a strict vegetarian Gus takes get pleasure in ordering a blood rare steak for dinner. Elizabeth finally tells Gus the real reason for the dinner together; they are getting married. Gus is not at all pleased with the news but his daughter is a grown woman after all. One glimmer of hope comes to Gus. They are getting engaged so there are months, even a couple of years before the actual marriage. This happy moment doesn’t last long as his daughter tells him the wedding is that weekend in Las Vegas. Gus points out that all her life Elizabeth has dreamt about a big church wedding. The reason for the elopement comes to light; Laurent’s visa is about to expire and unless he gets married he will have to leave the country.
Gus turns to his buddies to come with him to Las Vegas and prevent the biggest mistake of his daughter’s life. They manage to come into possession of a luxury tour buss for the journey and start the cross country trek. Stopping off in New Orleans they meet up with Marvin’s nephew, a famous rap artist Mater Flow (Coolio). He has a home that looks like something right out of MTV’s ‘Cribs’. They also cross paths with tow gay men Chris (Mario Cantone) and Antoine (Taylor Negron) who are so stereotypical and affected they set GLADD back a few decades.
This film is noteworthy for the older slant but everything here has been done before. The cast is incredible saving the film. Peter Falk is always fun to watch and does well in comedies like this. The best of the lot is Rip Torn who has the gruff old guy role down to a science. George Segal has been doing comedy for longer than the younger cast members here have been alive. He still has the right timing and edge to make it funny.
The DVD is released by First Look Entertainment and is a fun little romp worthy watching.