‘The Worst Las Vegas Movies Ever’

Las Vegas makes for the perfect movie backdrop. It’s like a smorgasbord for directors. Action movies set there can feature the excitement of the casino or the city’s organised criminal underbelly. Rom coms have all the fun of stag dos, hen parties, strip clubs, and shotgun weddings. In theory it should be easy to write a great Las Vegas movie. However, many fall spectacularly short of acceptability. We’ve gathered some of the worst offenders together on this list.

Vegas Vacation (1997)
Vegas Vacation is part of the National Lampoon’s Vacation Series. After coming into some unexpected money, the Griswald family head to Las Vegas. The female Griswalds rightly identify that Sin City is hardly the place for a family vacation early on. However, that gets quickly dismissed.

Once in Vegas, a series of typical Vegas misadventures ensure. Clark, the father, blasts too much playing blackjack, the son gets involved with the mob after showing incredible fortune playing craps, and the daughter ends up seeing the sleaziest side of Vegas in the city’s nightclubs. It’s all too predictable – rather typical of later franchise movies.

Despite being the first movie of the franchise to drop “National Lampoon” from the title, the movie is full of the kind of humour we’ve come to expect. It feels a lot more tired now in this outing though. The story itself has gaping plot holes and feels like little more than a platform to deliver a barrage of innuendos at viewers.

Despite its cheesy dialogue and loose narrative, the occasional gag might prompt a smirk. With such moments being about as illusive as a straight flush, it’s far from the quality of the original movies in the franchise.

3,000 Miles to Graceland (2001)
A glance at either the cast, plot, or trailer to this one and you’d be forgiven for thinking it had classic written all over it. This casino heist flick stars Hollywood heavyweights like Kurt Russel, Kevin Costner, Christian Slater, Bokeem Woodbine, Ice T, and Courtney Cox. The trailer looks pretty solid too. It does a particularly excellent job of hiding the monotony awaiting viewers of the full movie.

3,000 Miles to Graceland is about a group of gangsters attempting to rob a casino. They plan to do so under the guise of Elvis Presley impersonators. The robbery itself is a messy affair with the blood of patrons and croupiers splashing everywhere. Moments later, this clearly traumatic event seems to have been forgotten about.

The rest of the movie sees a weak romance form between Cox and Russel’s characters. A series of poor parenting decisions follows, culminating in the sudden love interest abandoning both son and new lover. The funniest part is it seems like director Demian Lichtenstein wanted the viewer to identify with this absolute model of motherhood.
 
What Happens in Vegas (2008)
In this bold and oh-so-courageous plot, two young adults get wasted in Las Vegas and get hitched. Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher take the leads in this predictable and tepid comedy. Of course, she’s an urban go-getter and he’s a rough-around-the-edges party guy.

The pair had so much fun in Sin City that the entire weekend was a complete blur for both the New York residents. However, a newly-signed marriage licence is there to remind them. During the chaos of the weekend, the two are playing a slot machine. They won big – to be more precise millions of dollars. However, now the alcoholic haze has lifted, both claim the money to be theirs.
Unable to reconcile their differences, they head to court, where they receive the ridiculous sentence of three months “Hard Marriage”. Being forced to live together, the clash of personalities makes for the kind of dull scenarios you’d expect. Oh, and yeah, it does end that way…

Despite drawing a pair of reasonably big names to take the leads, the production team did not get the staff elsewhere for this one to be a hit. The screenplay is dire, the dialogue uninspiring, and the jokes are cheap. To make matters worse these flaws seem reflected in the performances of the stars who appear wooden and unenthused. Perhaps this one should have stayed in Vegas.
 
Lucky You (2007)
This 2007 Las Vegas flick has a fantastic soundtrack. The rest of Lucky You? Meh…

Huck Cheever is a high stakes poker player with an itchy trigger finger. He plays by the mantra “go big or go home”. Yet in his personal life, he’s less loose. The contrived moral that uses the 2003 World Series of Poker as its backdrop is that Huck needs to play his personal relationships like he plays cards and to reign in his aggression at the felt. His prize for doing so? You guessed it, a pretty girl.

The plot itself lacks creativity and relies on this love interest, which in turn feels both tired and forced. Some of the best scenes of the movie actually turn out to be those where people are just playing cards. Bringing the action to life is Cheever’s father, mentor, and opponent at the final table, LC Cheever. LC provides almost enough relief from the tepid performance. However, Robert Duvall, despite his best efforts, is fighting a losing battle.
 
Show Girls (1995)
Incoherent, tedious, and offensive. Those might be the least offensive words to accurately describe Show Girls. In this box office loser, Nomi, played by Elizabeth Berkley, heads to Las Vegas to find work as a dancer. Unfortunately, she winds up shaking her thing at a strip club called Cheetah’s Topless Lounge.

Rather than tackle issues of exploitation and women’s rights, the movie comes across as a thin excuse to get some flesh on display. Many of the movie’s ideas have been lifted clumsily from other works of cinema and Berkley’s acting is particularly nauseating. Despite being forced to follow this girl’s escapades, it’s incredibly hard to like her given her giddy and self-absorbed persona. 

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