Vegas Movies: The 29 best titles you shouldn’t miss

What goes down in Vegas usually stays there, you know, unless they decide to turn it into a movie. Vegas is like this big hub of fun, crazy stuff, and back in the day, some not-so-good things too. It’s been the backdrop for lots of films, even the Griswolds from that one vacation movie went there once. Although that flick didn’t quite make it to the top list, I’ve got a lineup of 25 really great Vegas movies that at least have some scenes in the City of Sins.

1 of 29 Vegas movies: ‘Swingers’ (1996)

Vegas Movies

Oh, Vegas, the place to be! Swingers, that movie, it’s like the magic wand for Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau’s careers. And guess what? It also got a bunch of guys in their twenties back in the ’90s all excited about hitting up Vegas with their pals. Now, the whole story doesn’t unfold in Vegas, but you can’t even talk about Swingers without mentioning the Vegas vibe it brings. This is one of the best Vegas movies.

2 of 29: ‘Rat Race’ (2001)

Vegas Movies

You know that movie Rat Race? Well, it’s like they tried to give a fresh spin to the old classic It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. But here’s the twist: Instead of Sid Caesar and Jonathan Winters, we’ve got Jon Lovitz and Seth Green in the mix. Now, I’ll be honest, this crazy adventure might not stick in your mind like the original, but it’s a good time. It’s all about this wild race from Vegas to Silver City, New Mexico, and guess what’s up for grabs? A cool $2 million!

3 of 29: ‘Lost in America’ (1985)

Lost in America
Warner Bros.

You know, Albert Brooks, he was like a real mastermind – he didn’t just act, he wrote and directed movies that were totally his style. Lost in America, well, that’s like the ultimate Brooks movie, I’d say. It’s all about these two kinda clueless yuppies who decide to go on this big, exciting journey. But you see, things take a wild turn when they end up in Las Vegas.

4 of 29 Vegas movies: ‘3000 Miles to Graceland’ (2001)

This movie didn’t do so hot at the box office, but when it comes to capturing the Vegas vibe, it’s a total hit. Picture this: all the flashy lights and not-so-fancy glam of the city. And guess what? It’s got Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner in the spotlight! They’re these two guys with this wild idea to swipe some cash from a casino right in the middle of an Elvis impersonator convention. I mean, bunches of fake Elvises and a casino heist? Can’t get more Vegas than that, right?

5 of 29: ‘The Godfather’ (1972)

Vegas Movies

The Corleone family, you know them, they’re into all sorts of stuff, some legal, some not so much. Being part of the Mafia, they’ve got their fingers in the Las Vegas pie too. Remember Fredo? He’s over there, doing his thing working for Moe Greene in Vegas during this flick. And then there’s Michael, he makes a trip to see Greene too. But hey, things don’t exactly go well for Greene after that. Not for him, or even his glasses. This classic is one of our favorite Vegas movies.

6 of 29: ‘Rain Man’ (1988)

Vegas Movies

Bet you’ve heard about Rain Man, even if you haven’t seen the whole Best Picture-winning movie. There’s this really famous part – Dustin Hoffman’s character, Raymond, he’s got autism but is a total genius with numbers. He’s there in a Las Vegas casino, playing blackjack and counting cards like a pro. This scene is like etched in our pop culture memory, and guess what? Tom Cruise is there too, sharing the spotlight. You know, they don’t really make movies like this these days.

7 of 29 Vegas movies: ‘Mars Attacks!’ (1996)

So, when those Martians paid a visit to the good ol’ U.S. of A, they had their eyes set on a couple of cities – obviously, Washington D.C., and wouldn’t you know it, Las Vegas too. Now, what’s kinda cool is that Jack Nicholson takes on not one, but two parts in this Tim Burton movie that’s just filled with crazy antics. One minute he’s the President, and the next, he’s this cowboy dude who’s all about developing stuff in Las Vegas. Oh, and let’s not forget Danny DeVito, he’s right up there in the credits too, playing a character named the “Rude Gambler.”

8 of 29: ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’ (1997)

Vegas Movies
New Line Cinema

Okay, so Austin Powers, he’s this British super spy who’s all into that groovy scene in London, you know? But here’s the twist – he gets frozen and then defrosted years later, and suddenly he’s got to go wherever the crazy stuff is going down. In one part of the movie, guess where that is? Yep, Las Vegas! So, he’s there, pretending to be Richie Cunningham (and his wife, Oprah’s there too, can you believe it?), and he crosses paths with Dr. Evil’s super alluring lady, who’s got quite the name – Alotta Fagina.

9 of 29: ‘Go’ (1999)

Vegas Movies

There are a couple of movies that kind of connect Los Angeles and Las Vegas, you know? Swingers is one of them, and it’s all about cutting loose, having a blast, and being totally awesome (baby). Then there’s Go, which goes back and forth between the two cities. But here’s the thing, this story dives into drugs, fights, and young folks making some really bad choices. What’s cool is that both of these movies are actually directed by Doug Liman.

10 of 29 Vegas movies: ‘Jason Bourne’ (2016)

Vegas Movies

It’s kind of odd, you know? That director Liman did the first Jason Bourne film, but he didn’t do this one – it’s actually the fourth in the series (or fifth, if you count that other one with Jeremy Renner, The Bourne Legacy). Just like always, Bourne is all over the map in this flick, but what’s really cool is that the whole spy story wraps up in Vegas.

11 of 29: ‘Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous’ (2005)

You know how sequels can sometimes not be as great as the first one? Well, that’s the story with Miss Congeniality’s sequel too. But hey, the good news is that Sandra Bullock was back in action, and having her around is usually a pretty awesome deal. In this one, two of her character’s pals get snatched up right in Vegas, and get this – even the current Miss America is among them! So, Bullock’s gotta make her way to Vegas to untangle the mess.

12 of 29: ‘Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice’ (1969)

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

You might have heard of this one as the “partner swapping movie.” Yeah, it’s got that reputation. And let me tell you, it’s got quite the lineup, with Natalie Wood and Elliott Gould in the mix. So, there are these two pairs of folks, Bob and Carol as one, and Ted and Alice as the other. Well, things start to get a bit tangled up, especially when they head to Las Vegas.

13 of 29 Vegas movies: ‘Rocky IV’ (1985)

Vegas Movies

I’m sure you remember how in Rocky, Rocky and Ivan Drago have this epic boxing match over in the Soviet Union. And when Rocky wins, it’s like he’s taking a stand against communism. But before all that, Drago goes up against Apollo Creed, and here’s where things get really heavy. Drago actually defeats Apollo, and it’s probably one of the most intense moments in all the Rocky movies. Oh, and guess where this fight takes place? None other than the MGM Grand in Vegas.

14 of 29: ‘The Gambler’ (1974)

Vegas Movies

You might figure that any movie about gamblers would automatically be set in Vegas, right? Well, turns out that’s not always the case. Take California Split, for instance. Nope, it never even steps foot in Vegas. But hey, The Gambler does head there. In this one, the late James Caan takes on the role of a professor who’s got a pretty bad gambling habit and finds himself in Sin City. And let me tell you, things don’t exactly go smoothly for him. Caan even scored a Golden Globe nomination for his role. Oh, and just a tip – you might want to skip the remake with Mark Wahlberg.

15 of 29: ‘Domino’ (2005)

Tony Scott had this thing for creating movies that were all fast-paced, energetic, and shiny. And you know what? That style was a perfect match for the Vegas vibe. In Domino, Keira Knightley plays the main character, and get this, she’s a former model turned bounty hunter. Might sound a bit crazy, but here’s the kicker – she’s actually inspired by a real-life person! Now, Domino’s line of work takes her right into the heart of Vegas, and trust me, things start to spin a bit out of control from there.

16 of 29 Vegas movies: ‘Indecent Proposal’ (1993)

Vegas Movies

Back in 1993, it seemed like everyone was caught up in imagining what they’d do if they were put in the same spot as Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore’s characters in Indecent Proposal. Oh, and let’s not forget the trend of those copycat dresses similar to Moore’s famous ’90s black dress that were everywhere. I mean, imagine someone offering you a million bucks to spend a single night with them – would you go for it? And then there’s the whole deal about how your partner or spouse might react to this crazy situation. That’s basically the heart of this movie set in Las Vegas, where you’ve got Robert Redford in the mix too. But hey, let’s be real, in the real world, the rich person offering all that cash probably wouldn’t look as suave as Redford.

17 of 29: ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (1971)

Vegas Movies

In Sean Connery’s last ride as the legendary secret agent James Bond, the super cool spy story Diamonds Are Forever follows our slick hero, created by Ian Fleming, as he digs into this whole diamond smuggling deal and the big shot tycoon behind it. Bond’s gotta jet off to Vegas to sort out all the illegal stuff, and as he digs deeper, he realizes his old foe Ernst Stavro Blofeld is somehow mixed up in this mess to build a dangerous laser satellite. So, Bond goes undercover as a smuggler, teaming up with Tiffany Case.

There’s this crazy car chase part that sticks in your mind, where Bond zips through the streets of Vegas in a Ford Mustang, even tipping the car up on two wheels to give the police the slip. It’s like his way of showing off his heroic style while staying one step ahead.

18 of 29: ‘Viva Las Vegas’ (1964)

Viva Las Vegas

Back in 1964, Elvis Presley (you know, the guy who’s like the face of Vegas) and Ann Margaret, both mega stars, lit up Hollywood. Their movie, Viva Las Vegas, was such a smash hit. People say it’s one of Elvis’s top films. And can we talk about the amazing chemistry between Elvis and Ann Margaret, not to mention their awesome musical performances?

In the movie, Elvis takes on the role of Lucky Jackson. He’s this dude who heads over to Las Vegas to join the first Grand Prix Race they’re having in the city. But hey, his car’s engine starts acting up, so things don’t go as planned. Then there’s this funny bit where the hotel’s swim instructor, Rusty Martin (played by Ann Margaret), accidentally shoves him into the pool. It’s a hilarious moment. Lucky’s stuck with a hotel bill, so he ends up working as a waiter there to pay it off. And you won’t believe this – he even joins the hotel’s talent contest, all in the hopes of winning some cash to fix his car engine. Oh, and here’s a cool tidbit: Viva Las Vegas is actually one of Teri Garr’s earliest films.

19 of 29 Vegas movies: ‘Pay it Forward’ (2000)

Pay it Forward

Out of all the movies in this list, Pay It Forward stands out. It’s set in Las Vegas, but it’s not all about casinos on the Strip or Downtown. Instead, it’s got a different vibe. The story follows a seventh grader named Trevor McKinney, played by Haley Joel Osment, who’s just starting school in Las Vegas. He lives with his mom, who’s dealing with alcohol troubles (Helen Hunt is really great in this role). And then there’s his teacher, Eugene Simonet, played by Kevin Spacey. Eugene’s got his own emotional and physical scars to deal with.

Trevor takes the lead and starts this wonderful idea called “pay it forward.” It’s like a chain reaction of kindness, you know? And let me tell you, it starts to change the lives of the grown-ups around him who are struggling. This movie is so touching and motivational. And you know what? It actually inspired lots of similar good-deed movements in schools and businesses.

20 of 29: ’21’ (2008)

You know, the movie 21 is kinda like a playful take on the real-life book Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich. It’s about these MIT students who figure out this clever way to sort of ‘outsmart’ Las Vegas. So, in the flick, you follow this guy named Ben Campbell, played by Jim Sturgess. He’s this smart but kinda shy college student who’s in a tight spot – he needs a whopping $300,000 to cover his Harvard Med School tuition.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Ben gets pulled into this secret gang of MIT card counters, and they call themselves the MIT Blackjack Team. This math professor named Micky Rosa, played by Kevin Spacey, leads the crew. Their plan? To use card counting to hit a Vegas casino for some serious cash. But, as you can guess, things don’t exactly go according to plan.

21 of 29: ‘Bugsy’ (1991)

Gambling Movies

This crime movie is all about the true story of Ben ‘Bugsy’ Siegel, who’s quite the character. Warren Beatty plays him in the film. Bugsy’s a mix of being this dreamer with big ideas and, well, a bit of a dangerous guy too. He’s behind the building of this super fancy hotel and casino right there in the middle of the Nevada desert, and it’s like he’s the one who put Vegas on the map.

The movie got a lot of attention at the Oscars – it had 10 nominations and even snagged two wins for Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction. And guess what? It also took home the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama. So, if you’re into learning about the history of Las Vegas, this movie is definitely a top pick.

22 of 29 Vegas movies: ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ (1998)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

The 1998 flick Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is this kind of offbeat gem that people can’t help but love. You’ve got Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro in the lead, playing a totally wild journalist and a fiery lawyer. These two decide to dive headfirst into a trippy adventure across Sin City in their snazzy red Chevy Impala. And get this, their mission? Covering a motorcycle race.

It’s actually based on a book by Hunter S. Thompson with the same name. The movie takes you on this wild ride through the ’90s, full of psychedelic scenes. You watch these guys, Johnny Depp’s journalist and Benicio del Toro’s lawyer, bumbling around Vegas, soaking in all the sights on the Strip. And of course, they’re not shy about indulging in a ton of drugs along the way.

Now, when the movie first came out, people had mixed feelings. But as time went on, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas kind of found its groove. It’s now seen as this really innovative and surreal classic that totally captures what Thompson’s writing was all about. Plus, it’s a pretty bold take on how extreme things can get in our country.

23 of 29: ‘Smokin’ Aces’ (2006)

Vegas Movies

Smokin’ Aces, the action-packed comedy from back in the day, stars a bunch of big names like Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck, and Ray Liotta. The story’s all about this former Las Vegas magician who dreams of being a gangster. But guess what? He decides to spill the beans on the mob, and that sets off a crazy chase where all sorts of people are after him. They want to get their hands on that juicy $1 million reward.

Ryan Reynolds plays this FBI agent named Richard Messner. His job? Make sure the washed-up magician stays safe and keeps his word in court. So, it’s a game of cat and mouse as they try to outsmart hitmen, bounty hunters, and some seriously mad mob folks. This movie was a hit at the theaters, and it’s got a dedicated following now – you could say it’s a bit of a cult favorite. A review from Maxim even called it a wild ride, like a mix of Ocean’s 11 and Pulp Fiction, and more!

24 of 29: ‘The Hangover’ (2009)

Comedies that happen in Las Vegas, you know, they’re often not given enough credit. But then in 2009, Todd Philips brought us the first movie from The Hangover series, and everything changed. It’s all about these four buddies who call themselves The Wolf Pack. They head to Vegas for a bachelor party, and let’s just say, things take a wild turn.

So, picture this: they wake up after a crazy night in a messed-up Vegas hotel room. The trio – Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis – they’re on a mission to find the missing groom, played by Justin Bartha. The whole movie’s like the perfect representation of the whole “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” idea, but with a twist – you’ve got Mike Tyson and a tiger thrown into the mix.

25 of 29 Vegas movies: ‘The Cooler’ (2003)

Gambling Movies

The Cooler, well, it’s got William H. Macy right at the center playing a guy named Bennie. He’s this pro ‘cooler’ who works for a casino, and his job is to stop gamblers from having those lucky streaks. A ‘cooler’ is like a jinx – when they’re around, folks start losing and their good luck fades away. Then there’s Maria Bello as Natalie, a waitress who starts to have feelings for him. And let’s not forget Alec Baldwin, he’s the casino manager named Shelly.

Turns out, Bennie’s not just any guy – he’s got his own history of gambling struggles. He’s working for Shelly to clear up his debts from gambling. But when Bennie and Natalie start falling for each other, things take a twist – his luck starts changing, and that really gets under Shelly’s skin. Both Baldwin and Bello were so amazing in this film that they even got nominated for Golden Globes. It’s a great movie all about gambling and emotions.

26 of 29: ‘Fools Rush In’ (1997)

Vegas Movies

Fools Rush In is one of those top-notch comedies that brings the fun of Las Vegas to life. You’ve got Matthew Perry as Alex Whitman, this architect who’s all about the proper, serious stuff. He’s shipped off from New York City to Vegas to manage a nightclub construction project. One fateful night, he crosses paths with Isabel Fuentes, played by Salma Hayek. She’s this fiery Mexican-American photographer, full of spirit.

So, here’s the twist – they have a one-night fling and then go their separate ways. But fast forward three months, and Isabel drops some news on Alex: she’s expecting a baby. As they spend more time together and he gets to know her lively Latino family, he starts falling head over heels for her. The movie’s got this great mix of laughs and heartwarming moments, especially as Alex navigates the challenges of blending their different cultures and his big city lifestyle.

And there’s this scene that anyone who’s ever felt the desert sun in Vegas will relate to: Alex’s parents show up on an escalator, all sunburned to a bright red – a classic Vegas experience!

27 of 29: ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’ (1992)


Oh, you’ve gotta love Honeymoon in Vegas! Nicolas Cage, Sarah Jessica Parker, James Caan, and a whole bunch of skydiving Elvis impersonators – what a combo! Nicolas Cage steps into Jack Singer’s shoes, a guy who made this promise to his mom that he’d never tie the knot. Now, when the story kicks off, he’s been with his girlfriend Betsy, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, for ages, but she’s really ready to settle down and start a family.

So, Jack cooks up this plan – let’s head to Las Vegas and get hitched, right? But, here’s where things get tricky – he gets caught up in this crazy poker game that’s rigged, and ends up losing Betsy. And from there, it’s like a wild roller coaster. Jack ends up hijacking a taxi in Hawaii, somehow ends up stranded in San Jose, and then he goes all-out, suiting up as Elvis and parachuting down from the sky to save Betsy.

Now, there’s one thing that sums up the total craziness of this movie: “Flying Elvises, Utah Chapter.” I mean, it’s a wild ride of laughs, and it’s all about the lovable chaos of Vegas.

28 of 29 Vegas movies: ‘Ocean’s 11’ (1960 and 2001)

Gambling Movies
Warner Bros

Warner Bros. Pictures

No matter if we’re talking about the old 1960 version with the Rat Pack (you know, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Lawford) or the modern 2001 one with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, and Julia Roberts – both are just amazing movies. Packed with big names and tons of energy, they’re like perfect entertainment. And the cherry on top? The fantastic music that keeps things grooving.

Now, here’s the scoop: at the core, it’s all about a gang plotting to rob a casino right there in Las Vegas. And honestly, whether it’s the Rat Pack or the newer crew, the vibes are spot-on and the chemistry among the stars is just right. Both versions, they really bring the magic of Vegas to life.

29 of 29 Vegas movies: ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ (1995)

Leaving Las Vegas
MGM/UA Distribution Co.

Nicolas Cage won the big award, the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his role in Leaving Las Vegas. He played this really troubled guy, a screenwriter struggling with alcohol and suicidal thoughts. His plan? To go to Las Vegas and just drink himself into oblivion. Now, the movie’s based on a book by John O’Brien, and it’s like his own life story – he sold the rights to his novel and then sadly took his own life.

In the film, Cage is Ben Sanderson, this man from LA who’s lost his family and his job. Once he lands in Vegas, he crosses paths with Sera, a tough-as-nails prostitute played by Elisabeth Shue. And let me tell you, things take a really dark turn. Sera goes through some awful stuff, like a brutal gang rape and getting kicked out of her place. And Ben’s determination to drink himself to death adds another heavy layer. The movie’s really deep, touching on alcoholism, depression, and the weight of being alone.

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