Freeman, Kline, De Niro in "Last Vegas," and Redford in "All Is Lost."

For Hicksflicks.com, Nov. 15, 2013

Like Nellie Forbush in "South Pacific," I really am a cockeyed optimist when it comes to movies.

Sometimes it's rewarded, as with the three out right now that tell stories of human resilience in the face of overwhelming odds:

"All Is Lost" (PG-13), a one-man show with a virtuoso performance by Robert Redford.

"Gravity" (PG-13), a one-woman show (most of the way), with a virtuoso performance by Sandra Bullock.

And "Captain Phillips" (PG-13), which has other characters but focuses primarily on one man's inner strength, with, that's right, yet another virtuoso performance, this time by Tom Hanks.

Other times, despite high hopes, that optimism is slapped down, as with "Last Vegas" (PG-13), which my wife and I really wanted to like since the cast is so good — Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, and our favorites, Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman and Mary Steenburgen.

There are some good gags and the stars give it the old college try, but all too often the film relies on that fallback of the lazy screenwriter, cheap-and-easy sex gags.

Actually, the same could be said for "About Time" (R), which is a much more successful British comedy, with a science-fiction twist (the protagonist can time-travel at will).

"About Time" is also quite warm and touching, and it's certainly a lot funnier than "Last Vegas" — but in this film also, albeit a bit more sporadically, there are the cheap sex gags.

At least "About Time" has the honesty to be rated R.

Which is also what "Last Vegas" should be rated.