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Movie Showdown: Vegas Vacation vs The Hangover - Which movie is the best?

Updated: May 18

As Geoff and I were editing our Top Las Vegas Triggers video, we somehow got into a debate about which is the best Vegas movie: Chevy Chase's final "Vacation" movie, "Vegas Vacation"(1997) or "The Hangover"(2009) that launched the careers of Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and even Ken Jeong. ...Quick, name the actor who played (original) Doug? Yeah, I can't either...

Clark Griswold and Cousin Eddie playing craps

I love both movies, but my initial reaction was it had to be Vegas Vacation. Most people usually rank it 3rd or 4th out of the original "Vacation movies", but I've always personally put it #2 on my list, just a rung lower than "Christmas Vacation". Perhaps there is some bias because of my love of all thing Vegas, but it has some really funny moments, and Randy Quaid (Cousin Eddie) is still in prime form...

"I haven't seen a beatin' like that since somebody stuck a banana in my pants and turned a monkey loose"

Not having seen The Hangover in quite sometime, I re-watched it again and reminded myself how really funny it is. Zach Galifianakis is hilarious in the movie and there are many quotable lines that my friends and I recite quite regularly.

The gang from The Hangover checking in at Caesars Palace
"You probably get this a lot. This isn't the real Caesar's Palace, is it? Did, umm... did Caesar live here? ......I didn't think so"

I think the sequels kind of took a little of the shine off the original Hangover movie, but it is a really, really funny movie and watching it made me question my decision to give the nod to Vegas Vacation......

So how can I decide this? Saying it is a tie would be a really lame way to end this article, so I definitely won't be doing that. Lets break it down by cast, plot, soundtrack, Vegas locations, and quotable lines.


​Vegas Vacation

The Hangover

Chevy Chase

Bradley Cooper

Randy Quaid

Zach Galifianakis

Beverly De'Angelo

Ed Helms

Ethan Embry

Ken Jeong

Marisol Nichols

Rog Riggle

Wayne Newton

Mike Tyson

The main cast of the movie Vegas Vacation

Chevy Chase is the alpha actor/actress on this list. I have Randy Quaid and Zach Galifianakis as a tie. Beyond that, its ADVANTAGE: The Hangover (apologies to Mr. Pappagiorgio)


Vegas Vacation

The Hangover

A well intentioned dad takes his family on a family vacation to Vegas, gambles away their life savings, nearly loses his wife to Wayne Newton, and his underage son wins four cars and a lot of money playing craps.

​Four guys go to Vegas for a bachelor party and wake up the next morning with no recollection of what happened the night before, and spend the whole movie figuring together what happened.

The wolfpack toast to a night in Vegas

Both movies are over the top, with plenty of wackiness and insanity. But The Hangover was the first movie in the franchise, while Vegas Vacation with the fourth, so being the original trumps being the sequel to the sequel to the sequel. ADVANTAGE: The Hangover


Vegas Vacation

The Hangover

Lindsey Buckingham - Holiday Road

Danzig - Thirteen

Bob Dylan - All Along the Watchtower

Phil Collins - In the Air Tonight

Riperton/Rudolph - Lovin You​

Wolfmother - Joker & the Thief

The Beach Boys - Good Vibrations

The Donnas - Take it Off

Suddenly The Hangover is starting to run away with this. I love "Joker & the Thief", every time I hear it it makes me think of the movie. And the Mike Tyson scene where he is singing "In the Air Tonight" and then knocks out Alan is great! Don't forget "Stu's Song" and Alan's "we're the three best friends anyone could have". ADVANTAGE: The Hangover


Vegas Vacation

The Hangover


Caesars Palace

O'Sheas (in its glory days)

Riviera (RIP)

Fremont Street

Atomic Liquors

​Wayne Newton's Casa de Shenandoah

Mike Tyson's Mansion

The Mirage in its heyday, before it was earmarked to become a giant guitar, is just classic for me! For the Boomers and Gen Xers (myself included), this was a golden time in Vegas. The movie also features Wayne Newton's Casa de Shenandoah, the Neon Museum, O'Sheas and Fremont Street.

While Caesars Palace is a classic Vegas property, Vegas Vacation takes this category easily with both quality and quantity. ADVANTAGE: Vegas Vacation


Vegas Vacation

The Hangover

Hoover Dam Guide: Welcome everyone. I am your dam guide, Arnie. Now I'm about to take you through a fully functional power plant, so please, no one wander off the dam tour and please take all the dam pictures you want. Now are there any dam questions?

Cousin Eddie: Yeah, where can I get some damn bait?


Stu: I Look Like A Nerdy Hillbilly!


Cousin Eddie: I haven't seen a beatin' like that since somebody stuck a banana in my pants and turned a monkey loose.

Sid: Remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Except for herpes. That shit'll come back with you.

Marty the blackjack dealer: You don't know when to quit, do ya Griswold?... Here's an idea: why don't you give me half the money your were gonna bet, then we'll go out back, I'll kick you in the nuts, and we'll call it a day!

Phil: (to a student asking for help) It's The Weekend, Budnick. I Don't Know You. You Do Not Exist.

​Clark Griswold: Eddie, has anyone ever told you you're bad luck?

Cousin Eddie: Those were my mother's dying words. But I guess if your body's covered in third degree burns, and your foot's caught in a bear trap, you tend to start talkin' crazy.

Dr Valsh: It's At The Corner Of Get A Map And F*** Off.​

Clark Griswold: What can I do with five dollars?

Marty the blackjack dealer: Gee, I don't know. Buy a bullet and rent a gun?”

Stu: You are literally too stupid to insult.

Alan: Thank you.

Pit Boss: No, uh, corrective lenses tonight?

Rusty: No, I do not require them........

Pit Boss: Good luck sir

Rusty: But you do..

Alan: Tigers Love Pepper. They Hate Cinnamon.

Randy Quaid and Chevy Chase are almost unbeatable when it comes to delivering hilarious lines. This category is where Vegas Vacation really shines. If I had a nickel for every time I told someone "I do not require them" in the same way Rusty said it.... well... I'd have a bunch of nickels. ADVANTAGE: Vegas Vacation


A rough night for The Hangover crew

In an upset, The Hangover takes it. I know, I know. I went into writing this thinking Vegas Vacation would win this easily. But you can't deny the Hangover is a "modern" classic. The wolfpack and its many quotes are a permanent part of American pop culture. How many Alans a day do you think the Caesars Palace front desk people have to deal with? The answer is probably very rarely zero.

Fun Fact: (although I haven't put more than 1 minute of research into this, so "fact" might be a stretch) The only person (and character) to appear in both movies is Wayne Newton. ...And you might now be saying.... "Wayne Newton wasn't in The Hangover", and if you are saying that, we know you didn't closely examine the pictures of the night on Alan's camera that are shown during the credits.

Stu punches Wayne Newton in The Hangover

Vote below, which of these two movies is the better Vegas movie?

Which Vegas movie was the best?

  • The Hangover (2009)

  • Vegas Vacation (1997)

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