Lights, camera . . . crime? For the past few decades, Hollywood directors haven’t been able to keep their lenses off one of the most scandalous places around: the Vegas Strip. Directors understand that Vegas offers plenty of space for visitors to party, drink, gamble, and get into trouble. Here’s a list of nine films that show the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of the infamous Sin City.
Rain Man, 1988
When two long-lost brothers, Charlie (Tom Cruise) and Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) meet, you’d never expect the two to become friends. Once they do, though, trouble begins, love flourishes, and life changes for the two men in ways neither expected. Dustin Hoffman plays Raymond, an autistic genius whose blackjack brilliancy helps his brother get out of debt.
In a famous scene that may have solidified his Oscar win, Hoffman goes into a casino, counts cards, and wins a hefty sum of money at blackjack. Although casino bosses eventually throw the two brothers out, the money Raymond won helps his brother get out of debt and win over the girl of his dreams.
Based on true events, Martin Scorsese’s “Casino” follows the day-to-day operations of a fictional casino in Las Vegas. With Robert De Niro in the lead, the film couples casinos with mobsters to show all the dirty baggage between the two. Whether you watch it for romance, violence, or good ol’ fashioned scheming, “Casino” will not disappoint.
Vegas Vacation, 1997
What should you expect when a family heads to Vegas for family vacation? Chaos. And National Lampoon’s “Vegas Vacation” is full of just that-hilarious chaos. Once they arrive in Vegas, the Oswald family blows Dad’s (Chevy Chase) paycheck on gambling, mishaps, and adventures. If you want to tune in to some of the funniest casino scenes around, you should sit back, relax, and press play on “Vegas Vacation.”
Have you ever wondered about the underground world of high-stakes poker? Pop some popcorn and watch Matt Damon work his Texas Hold’em magic in “Rounders.” When a pair of friends try to recover debt and restore “three stacks of high society” into their bank account, they find the solution in high-stakes poker and a trip to the World Series of Poker Main Event in Vegas.
3000 Miles to Graceland, 2001
What happens when you mix betrayal, casino theft, and Elvis? You get the entertaining spectacle “3000 Miles to Graceland.” This movie proves that if you try to mess with a gang of ex-cons (played by Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner), you might be in for a few surprises
. When they try to rob the Riviera Casino during Elvis convention week, all you’ll want to say is “Viva Las Vegas!”
Ocean’s Eleven, 2001
The 2001 remake of “Ocean’s Eleven” hits a high note when an all-star ensemble cast plans to rob the Bellagio, The Mirage, and the MGM Grand casinos simultaneously. Whether you watch it for the eye candy (Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, and Julia Roberts star), the drama, or the suspense, this “Ocean’s Eleven” has everything the original film had and more.
Inspired by a true story, “21” follows a group of students that travels to Vegas over many weekends. An unorthodox professor created a team of MIT students and trained them to count cards. Once they learn, they systematically win big bucks at Vegas casinos. But, when pride and greed get the best of one student, violence and betrayal threaten to ruin the lives of each team member.
What Happens in Vegas, 2008
It’s usually a good thing that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” But you’ll be glad this film relaxed on that rule. In “What Hap pens in Vegas,” entertaining shenanigans make the movie screen light up and viewers laugh out loud. Joy (Cameron Diaz) and Jack (Ashton Kutcher) go out for a wild night out on the town, and end up married.
Before they can annul the marriage, Jack hits the three million dollar jackpot and Joy-as his new wife- wants her share of the money. Trouble, therapy, and triumph ensue to make this Vegas Strip comedy a must-see.
The Hangover, 2009
When a group of friends (played by Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Justin Bartha) travel to Vegas’ Caesars Palace for a bachelor party, things go awry. With a tiger in the bathroom, a chicken in the living room, Stu’s missing tooth, a baby in the closet, and a lost groom-to-be, “The Hangover” provides plenty of puzzles, suspense, and hearty laughter.
Last Vegas, 2013
Another group of bachelor-party-bound friends make their way to Vegas. In this film, they come to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of their last single friend. Although they are older, the men in this comedy still know how to have plenty of fun on the Strip and in the casinos.
Whether you like Vegas for its gambling or its entertainment, let movies handle casino cons and outlandish behavior. Use your best judgment and keep the law while you visit the Strip.