The Last Laugh, The First Movie of 2019


I know, I know, why bother? Why watch it, why write about it, why give it the time of day? Well for one, Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss used to be institutions. And for two, there’s something intriguing about a premise where two old men tour the country on a comeback comedy circuit at a time when stand-up comics are in the mud in a never-ending outrage media cycle. Unfortunately, The Last Laugh is content to wave off generational differences and make it about two men encountering misadventures on their hammy road trip, and not much else. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. In fact, grumpy old Chase gives one of his best performances and Dreyfuss proves he’s still got life left as a consummate funny man. Throw in the radiant Andie MacDowell as a hippie-cum-poet and a surprisingly moving turn by Chris Parnell, and Netflix’s old man saga has a lot going for it on the surface. Writer-director Greg Pritikin makes one fatal mistake, however, and it’s a common blunder among goal-oriented comedies. Through thick and thin, road shows and nightclubs, Dreyfuss finally makes it to the big time in the Big Apple. He nabs a mic on the Tonight Show and suddenly we’re in a MONTAAAGE. We’ve rooted for him and waited for him to kill in front of this live studio audience only for Greg to chop it up and glaze over his entire performance, and for cutaways of beaming family members no less. It’s fitting I suppose, but dropping the ball in the final minute will always leave a bitter taste.

Grade: C

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