Sultry show girls, high-stakes gamblers, neon signs pronouncing Celine Deon and David Copperfield appearances, and 40 million visitors each year – Viva Las Vegas. While many still think of Vegas merely as a tourist town, on average 7,000 people are moving to Las Vegas each month, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in America.
So, what’s it really like to live in what is tenderly known as Sin City? Well, if you let the world of cinema tell the story, you’re going to get a dissimilar answer every time. This makes sense, though. Seeing as there are seemingly endless things to do in Vegas, it would only be appropriate that films based on the city would be just as varied. Some stories are pure fun, and others will have you avoiding Vegas at all costs.
Helmed by funny man Todd Phillips, The Hangover blindsided Hollywood execs and audiences alike in the summer of 2009, laughing its way into history books as the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time.
The film stars Justin Bartha as Doug, a thirtyish male preparing to get married. Before the marriage, there is to be a bachelor party thrown by his best friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms), as well as Doug’s future brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis). So the four take off for Las Vegas where they proceed to have one hell of a drunken good time.
The film takes a brave turn by skipping over the raucous night in question. Instead, we pick up with the boys the following morning (hence the title) as they follow a series of clues to what happened the previous night. It involves their lost friend Doug, a tiger, a stripper, and Mike Tyson – among other things. And it is indeed quite hilarious.
The guys stay at Caesar’s Palace, one of the most lavish casino and hotel complexes in Las Vegas. However, actual gambling doesn’t really rise to prominence in the plot until the later stages of the movie, when the guys need to do it in order to recover some gangster money they apparently misplaced. They take advantage of Alan’s card counting skills to win the money at a blackjack table. (if this were real life, they probably should have taken their activities online, many actors love to play online blackjack games). Doing his best Rain Man impersonation, including smoothly coming down a Vegas escalator, Alan wins the money in style.
The Hangover does a great job of showcasing all of the crazy stuff one can do while staying at a casino in Vegas. It also shows how just about everything there is about size, or rather largeness. You get big casinos, with hundreds of slots and gaming tables, you get thousands of awesome shows every week and you are always surrounded by other people looking for fun. Everyone should try a weekend in Vegas at least once in their lives. Just make sure you don’t get roofied like these guys…