Every year, millions of people descend on Las Vegas, hell bent on having a damn good time. For some, that involves trying (and usually failing) to take money from the casino. For others, that involves clubbing, getting hammered, seeing Penn and Teller, going to a strip club, and/or screaming VEGAS!!!! at unreasonable volumes. The key to Las Vegas is that it can be damn near anything to anyone. It offers a seventy-two hour or so timeout from real life. Everywhere an observer looks, there are overt signs of tourists having unreasonable amounts of fun.
The latest film to riff off this expectation of fun is Last Vegas. Starring Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline, the PG-13 comedy seems to follow four old dudes who want to turn back the clock and have another misadventure before getting too fucking old for hijinks, I think. I haven’t exactly seen it, but based on the mediocre trailer and the meh minus reviews, I’m pretty confident we’re in for an older quartet working their way through all the Vegas-y things we’ve come to expect and trying desperately not to die. That sounds inoffensive and probably passable enough, but it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel.
I want to see a Vegas movie that defies expectations and goes a little stranger (like The Cooler). I want to see one that tackles one of the more secretive, bummer subplots bubbling beneath the Sin City surface and crying out for its own film. I want to see a movie about the one-time gangster paradise that has the courage to tone it down and fixate on the more monotonous and seemingly boring aspects of Las Vegas vacations and local life. I want to see one of these six films.
The Tiredness That Comes With Getting Drunk Too Early
Starring: Dane DeHaan as "Tired" Ted Murphy and Miles Teller and Donald Glover as his very awake, right level of drunk friends Trevor and Salamander.
Going to Las Vegas is a lot like tailgating as a college student before a big football game. There is alcohol everywhere, and without any obligations owed to the real world for at least a day, there is always a temptation to dive in DuckTales style into one of those huge Fat Tuesday's drinks. On the one hand, hitting the bottle early can prove a great way to spice up 11 AM and make afternoon craps games a whole lot less awkward. On the other hand, it can also torpedo your entire night, as our hero Tired Ted discovers when he realizes, much to his horror, that all he really wants to do is go to bed at 9 PM on a Saturday.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy solution to this predicament. His loud, obnoxious and right level of drunk (for Vegas) friends Trevor and Salamander (pronounced SAL-A-MANDDDDDDDER) are planning to go until at least 3 AM, and it’s too late in the game to take a nap. So, rather than hear his sleepiness get referenced for the rest of their friendship, Tired Ted heroically decides to tough it out and plow forward, all while encountering second winds, red bulls and a hooker played by Gabourey Sidibe who claims her sexual energy could wake up coma patients.
Releasing Studio: Universal
The Horrible Drive Back To LA
Starring: Rob Corddry as Mike McDougal, Judy Greer as Melinda McDougal and Maggie Elizabeth Jones as Melissa McDougal
Mike McDougal lives in Los Angeles and has some disposable income. That means once a year or so, he’s culturally obligated to throw a few button down shirts, his wife and a big pile of cash (fuck paying Vegas ATM fees) into his Prius and drive nine miles an hour over the speed limit through the desert on the 15 and into Las Vegas. This year, on his wife’s insistence, he agrees to bring along their seven-year-old daughter, but thanks to her obsession with seeing the sharks at Mandalay Bay, the proposed leaving time of 10 AM winds up getting pushed back to 2:30 PM, which as any Los Angeles resident knows is a World War II level disaster.
Stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for two hundred and seventy miles, alongside a wife who really wants to make it home in time for The Good Wife, which she may have forgotten to DVR, and a daughter who can’t stop talking about how much she hates one of her first grade classmates (that stupid Alyssa), poor Mike is nearing his breaking point, especially given the twenty-three-year-old asshole behind him in the Beamer who seems to think honking will implore his fellow drivers to move faster. He knows if he lets his wife and daughter have it, he’ll eat death glares for the next six or seven hours, but he has to do something to break out of this funk. So, he does what any sensible middle-aged man who gives zero fucks would do: he takes to the shoulder and decides to gun it in hopes he can make it at least halfway back before getting the ticket he knows is coming.
Releasing Studio: Paramount
How Easy It Is To Get Lost Inside Caesar's Palace
Starring: Anna Kendrick as Rebecca, Ellie Kemper as Megyn, Lauren Ambrose as Jackie and Katrina Bowden as their idiot friend Beth.
Fresh off the plane and ready to put down their shit, no-nonsense Minneapolis girls Rebecca, Megyn and Jackie are excited to check into their suite at Caesar’s Palace and reconnect with their absent-minded friend Beth who recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue modeling. Unfortunately, they’re told by the woman at the counter that Beth already checked into the room but left a note indicating a) she has all the room keys, b) her cell phone is charging in the room and c) she’ll be waiting somewhere inside the mall at Caesar’s Palace for them to arrive.
Shot in real time, Lost In Caesar’s Palace follows our three heroes as they wander through the mall inside the gigantic Vegas hotel looking for their friend and more importantly, the room keys she possesses. At first in awe of the stunning architecture and painted ceilings, the ladies grow progressively more annoyed as they criss-cross in every which direction looking for their idiot friend in what could be the most confusing maze on Earth. Through shopping detours, horrible directions from drunk idiots and the occasional scream, they learn a little bit about life and absolutely nothing about the best way to navigate Caesar’s Palace.
Releasing Studio: Focus Features
Those Creepy Hooker Tickets People Hand Out
Starring: Tonita Castro as Rosa, Jaime Pressly as Shanelle, Ving Rhames as Legs, Teck "Money" Holmes as Ray Ray and Nick Offerman as The High Roller
Every night, hundreds of thousands of advertisements for prostitutes are dropped on the streets of Las Vegas. By the time tourists wake up with hangovers the next morning, all of those creepy little cards that range in rating from PG-13 to NC-17 are gone thanks to workers like Rosa and Ray Ray. Ordinarily, the two simply throw out all of the discarded advertisements, but thanks to a chance encounter, there’s a whole lot more at stake today.
Sometime around 3:30 AM, the High Roller, drunk as a skunk, met his dream woman, a prostitute who goes by a name that starts with an "s". She wrote down her number on one of those cards and passed it along, but in his hammered state, he dropped it somewhere on Las Vegas Boulevard between the Venetian and Paris. He wants it back and is willing to pay anyone who finds it a thousand dollars. Rosa and Ray Ray combine forces to take up the challenge, but they’ve got some competition in the form of Legs, a street performance artist who overhears the High Roller’s offer and decides to get that money for himself.
Releasing Studio: Lionsgate
Mean Mugging Sales Clerks At The Expensive Malls
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood as Beatrice, Nina Dobrev as Ariel and Teresa Palmer as the girl in the Target dress.
As employees inside Marni at Crystals, Beatrice and Ariel spend their days talking about their shared desire to move to Europe and the various shoppers who walk around the mall, an overwhelming majority of which can afford Starbucks, Pinkberry and little else in the immediate vicinity. Now and again, the ladies grow bored and actively try to coax women inside as a means to break up the crushing boredom of their eight-hour workdays, but more often, they sit near the window, judging and mean mugging any less than affluent-looking window shopper who gazes inside.
On her way into the store, the girl in the Target dress felt the sting of the mean mug, but that didn’t stop her from spending a healthy chunk of money and surprising the cashiers who thought they knew it all. Infatuated and obsessed with knowing how she has so much confidence, the two girls begin hanging out with the stranger and in the process, start learning a slew of details that are enough to completely upend their once judgmental worldviews. Look for this one to get some early Oscar buzz before slowly fizzling out by awards season.
Releasing Studio: Fox Searchlight
Loud Eurotrash Neighbors
Starring: Paul Giamatti as Michael Brown, Catherine Keener as Leslie Brown, Alexander Skarsgard as Bjorg and Benedict Cumberbatch as Reginald
An overwhelming majority of Las Vegas visitors choose to do their partying at clubs, inside casinos or just generally, out and about somewhere. A small minority, however, choose to treat their hotel rooms like European raves. Meet Bjorg and Reginald. They’re a newly married gay couple from Sweden/ Luxembourg on their honeymoon in Vegas. They love nothing more than playing their music loud, much to the chagrin of neighbors Michael and Leslie Brown who prefer to turn in around eleven.
Scheduled to stay in adjoining hotel rooms for the next six nights, Michael and Catherine decide to do everything they can to smoke their fellow travelers out, at least until they learn Reginald will soon begin working as an admissions offer at Duke, the same college the Brown’s daughter has her heart set on attending. So, with the help of some strong liquor and good intentions, they decide to take one for the team and befriend the Europeans in an effort to eventually get a leg up in the highly competitive admissions process. Be on the lookout for a great cameo from Anton Yelchin who plays Bjorg’s much younger former lover Evgeny and for several DJ sets from former Jersey Shore star Pauly D.
Releasing Studio: Warner Bros
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Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, a great wrestling promo and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.