Thursday, June 04, 2009

Out of Vegas

When three 'bachelor party' friends wake up in a trashed suite in Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, with a chicken on the sofa , a tiger in the bathroom and a baby in the closet they can't remember a thing about the night before. Somehow, they've swapped the father-in-law's convertible for a police car but, more disastrously, the groom has disappeared So the rest of the film is about attempts locate him, and in the process, about uncovering what really happened the night before.

I was at the preview because I responded to a 'free films' ad in Time Out a few years back. I get these email ticket offers for new releases, click on a choice of cinema and the reply is nearly always 'sold out'. I struck lucky with The Wind that Blows the Barley, but then Ken Loach is a minority taste. Monday's film seemed awful, but I was so surprised to get a 'yes' that I went.

' West-end Vue's the most expensive cinema in London', said R enviously, as he left for his bridge game. I had a quick look at an Internet trailer and hoped stag-night capers in Vegas would be a mix of Sideways and Ocean's Eleven. The director's already made a film called Old School, but I hadn't seen it.

Screen 8, right at the top of the Leicester Square cinema, was full and the mainly mid-twenties-couples audience laughed a lot. 'It's the best free film I've seen', I heard a woman say as we left.

I couldn't fault the production values. The film had some very funny parts and the cinematography, contrasting wild Nevada desert and dazzling sin-city hotels, was as exhilarating as the soundtrack. The plot was unlikely, but the acting wasn't bad, as the roles didn't demand anything subtle - one handsome married guy eager to stray, one hairy oaf, one nerdy dentist and the innocent-abroad groom. The silly jokes, unlikeable characters and glaring product placement were just about made up for by the genuinely comic twists.

Unfortunately, rampant racism and sexism spoilt the film. There's a pair of menacing black thugs (cue cameo from facially tattoed Mike Tyson petting a tiny pooch, like Lenny in Of Mice and Men) and Asian gangsters who present an odd mix of violence and effeminacy.

The men are pathetic but the women are worse, although mainly off-screen. It's more of a buddy-bonding film. 'Positive' females are compliant no-strings hookers in Las Vegas, while the 'negative' ones are back home, waiting with balls and chains, or constantly in touch by cell phone, demanding reports like long-distance probation officers .

'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' advises the father-in-law at the start. I wish it were true. The whole thing reminds me of one of my Auntie's expressions when pestered about what was for dinner. She'd laugh and say 'S**t with sugar on it!'

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