A Pleasant But Forgettable Trip Down Memory Lane
The Last Laugh is a lot like a simulator ride at a theme park. The experience is pleasant, it provides mild enjoyment but is also dwarfed by a breadth of other more memorable and exciting offerings around. Despite the inspired comedic pairing of Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss at the helm, The Last Laugh fails to really deliver anything substantial. Instead, the film sends us on a trip down memory lane with these two lovable characters who manage to keep the straight forward and basic storyline together. An odd musical number during the second act and the same jokes being pedaled through the run time do take the edge off this one a little but this is the sort of film that’s likely to divide a lot of the fan-base.
Played out as a character driven comedy, the film revolves around newly retired talent manager Al Hart. After moving into a prestigious complex, he’s reunited with his first client, Buddy. The two reminisce about the good old days, lamenting the missed opportunity to be big stars in Hollywood. It’s at this point where Al convinces Buddy to join him on one last road trip, as they embark on a comedy tour around the US for one last shot at the big time. What follows is a formulaic road trip movie, interspersed with stand up shows around a story thematically centered on acceptance and reflection. All of this culminates in a heartwarming finale and a final hoorah for our characters.
Those going into this expecting a stand out comedy offering chock full of belly laughs and clever jokes may well be left wanting. To accompany the tone of the film, many of the jokes here rely on juxtapositions (old people being hip or smoking drugs) and amusing but largely recycled puns throughout its run time. While this alone would be enough to not recommend The Last Laugh, it actually works surprisingly well next to the film’s predominant themes.
The real highlight of the film though comes from the on-screen chemistry between Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss. With both men playing similar roles and haunted by the same fears around growing old and being less relevant in society, there’s a respectful harmony between both characters that just seems to work so well throughout the film. Even during some of the more lacklustre or questionable elements of the script, it’s ultimately these two men that keep things ticking over.
The Last Laugh is unlikely to be a film remembered for years to come. Nor is it likely to be the sort of film vilified for its long stretches that fail to offer any substantial comedic value. Instead, The Last Laugh is a perfectly acceptable and largely forgettable comedy offering, the sort of pleasant little trip you’ll enjoy while it lasts but forget even exists some months down the line. Still, if you’re in the mood for comedy, The Last Laugh may just offer a few laughs along its heartwarming journey for you to savour.