AP Photo/Warner Bros., Frank Masi
Friday, June 19, 2009 | 3 a.m.
In the past few weeks millions of moviegoers have seen “The Hangover,” a bawdy comedy set in Las Vegas about a bachelor party gone wrong.
In its first two weekends in theaters “The Hangover” ranked No. 1 at the box office, raking in about $105 million.
That should be good news for tourism since many Vegas-set films tend to serve as 90-minute advertisements for the city.
But I’m not sure that “The Hangover” presents an image of Las Vegas we, as residents, can be proud of.
The film has many beautiful images of our home: the resorts, the lights, the sunsets and the desert landscapes that stretch forever.
I’ll admit that I’m a Las Vegas homer and I view most of the Strip resorts as the home of class, elegance and style. Our resorts are collectively the best in the world.
Hollywood seems to find Las Vegas fascinating, but most films include the same tired stereotypes about our city and its residents. From that perspective, “The Hangover” is no different.
The film’s entertainment value is in solving the mystery about what happened the night before after the main characters wake up in a trashed suite at Caesars Palace with one person missing, another minus a tooth, a tiger in the bathroom and a baby appearing from out of nowhere.
The protagonists start their night of debauchery with a toast on the roof at one of Caesars towers. That’s something all of us do from time to time, right?
When the characters begin seeking clues about what happened the night before, they stumble from one Vegas stereotype to the next.
There’s the heart-of-gold stripper who is found to have married one of the partygoers. There’s the doctor who gladly stuffs his pocket with a C-note in exchange for information and allows the partygoers to chat with him while he performs an examination.
A hotel valet hands the keys to a stolen police cruiser to the guys with no questions asked. I’m sure Metro was pleased with the depiction of its officers letting the guys go if they allowed themselves to be targets for a demonstration for kids of what it’s like to be hit with a Taser.
Las Vegas personalities Mike Tyson, Wayne Newton and Carrot Top also get some screen time.
The stereotype supreme is that Las Vegas is a place where a large amount of cash is easily acquired at the blackjack table if it’s needed to solve a problem. In an in-movie spoof of the Tom Cruise-Dustin Hoffman film “Rain Man,” the guys are on a hot streak and win enough to pay the ransom for their missing friend.
Even the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority must be proud that its trademark catchphrase “What happens here, stays here” was corrupted into “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas — except for herpes” in the movie.
OK, I get it that “The Hangover” is a comedy filled with a host of improbable situations. But unfortunately, the film reinforces the stereotype that we live in an anything-goes environment without consequences. Most people know it’s just a stupid movie and these are stupid characters doing stupid things.
But trust me, some will think this is how you’re supposed to act when you come here.
So now, every time I see tourists do something incredibly stupid — climbing utility poles at the New Year’s Eve celebration or jaywalking across Las Vegas Boulevard come to mind — I’ll wonder if they came here thinking they could do it because that’s what you do when you come to Las Vegas.
That’s what the guys in “The Hangover” did.
Travel Goods Show moving on
The Travel Goods Show National Convention is an annual event that has occurred in Las Vegas occasionally, but organizers announced last week that it is moving to rival Chicago in 2011.
After making Las Vegas its home for several years, the show moved to San Diego in 2009, but announced it was returning to Las Vegas next year.
The 2010 event will occur March 2-4 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and 3,000 people are expected.
But organizers told conventiongoers last week that after talking about it for years, the organization has entered negotiations with the International Housewares Association to locate its show with the Travel Goods Show in Chicago in 2011 and 2012.
Travel show executives say they have a lot to gain pairing with the International Home + Housewares Show. For openers, about 60,000 attend the housewares event.
Travel show officials say many buyers cover both categories, but the two groups of exhibitors don’t compete with each other.
The kicker is that both groups like to meet in early March.
You can bet that the LVCVA isn’t happy with the decision and it will be on the doorstep of both shows’ organizers telling them how a dual show would make even more sense if it were staged in Las Vegas.
More bad news
The aviation industry had its share of bad news last week with several airlines reporting summer loads aren’t close to what they expected, even after downsizing capacity and shedding routes.
Delta Air Lines expects to cut another 10 percent of its international flights in the months ahead. Delta doesn’t have any international routes to and from Las Vegas, and there hasn’t been any indication of whether cuts would affect Delta’s average 22 daily flights to and from McCarran International Airport. Incidentally, that’s one more daily flight here than the airline had a year ago.
Officials at Southwest Airlines, the busiest operator at McCarran, also said projections for the rest of the summer have been below what they had forecast.
Finally, US Airways, the No. 2 operator at McCarran, said it has more staff than it needs based on the level of cuts the airline has made and is seeking 400 flight attendant volunteers to take a 16-month furlough.
Of the 400 flight attendants sought, Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways is hoping 300 come from Phoenix and Las Vegas and the other 100 from East Coast operations.
A company spokeswoman said if not enough volunteers come forward, the airline will choose which employees are furloughed.
The Airbus A330 jet has been in the news since the June 1 crash of an Air France jet in the Atlantic Ocean on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. The crash killed 228 people.
Part of the investigation has centered around the aircraft’s airspeed sensors, which may have malfunctioned during the flight. Last week, officials with Airbus publicly defended the A330 after all the speculation with the manufacturer’s top executive, Thomas Enders, saying, “the A330 is one of the best and safest planes ever built.”
The news got me curious as to whether any A330s regularly land at McCarran. The answer: At least one does.
Although Northwest Airlines (now Delta) and US Airways have A330s in their fleets, they aren’t used on trips to Las Vegas.
However, Thomas Cook Airlines, which has seasonal flights twice a week between Manchester, England, and Las Vegas from May to October uses the A330 on its flights to and from McCarran.
Richard N. Velotta covers tourism for In Business Las Vegas and its sister publication, the Las Vegas Sun. He can be reached at 259-4061 or at [email protected].