Did we like it?
When Louis stumbles into the more eccentric aspects of life, there’s always mischievous fun to be had. And although he didn’t quite hit the jackpot with this film, he did capture the miserable addictiveness of pouring cash into the coffers of casinos.
What was good about it?
• Louis’s genuine concern for former doctor Martha who spends her retirement inserting what remains of her millions into slot machines, sustained by the complementary food and drink that is kindly laid on by the caring casino. And we actually did believe her son when he said he didn’t mind his inheritance disappearing ($4m has vanished in seven years), as long as mum had fun.
• Louis gently winding up the “unlucky” men who’d rolled into Las Vegas thinking they’d make a mint and skulked away after losing fortunes.
• Novice Louis managed to win a few dollars at the card table, just to rub salt into the wounds of the experienced gamblers.
• However glamorous Las Vegas may look, Louis succeeded in showing that all that glitters sure ain’t gold. Behind all that gilt, there’s misery. “This place,” he said, looking out over grandiose hotels, a Sphinx and neon signs, “wasn’t built on winners.”
• Louis’ voxpops conducted in the casino elevators. “Are you having fun? Have you won? Are you losing?” Almost everyone he met had a grim enough expression to make the questions redundant, but it was fun to see nevertheless.
What was bad about it?
• Louis has made a living out of appearing to be stupid (making him the Jade Goody of the documentary world) but his programmes are better when he’s trying to understand, or deliberately misunderstand, appalling freaks. With sad losers the focus of this film, it would have been like shooting puppies if he’d dished out his usual mocking.