7 Days to Vegas (Eric Balfour, 2019)
If you do a quick Google search on the question “can you walk to Las Vegas?” you’ll be met with results spanning from walking from the airport to the Strip, among other reasonable recommendations … but 7 Days to Vegas is anything but sane. What starts as your typical cool and slick poker film slowly unravels into one of the craziest journeys in recent cinematic history.
From the mind of former actor turned poker player, and now TV poker commentator for the World Poker Tour, Vincent Van Patten, comes a film that some may describe as a crossover between The Hangover and Forrest Gump. And while the Forrest Gump comparison is a little bit of a joke, the film’s premise of walking 280 miles from San Fernando Valley to Sin City in seven days is about as outlandish as it gets. What’s even more insane is that the story’s premise is based on a real-life bet that Van Patten took, as he did at some point in his life attempt to walk to Las Vegas.
The craziness doesn’t stop there, as Van Patten’s closeness to Las Vegas’ culture seeps through the scenes. Everything from the 1998 classic Rounders to 2017’s Molly’s Game had such rich ground to cover on screen. But what Van Patten adds to the table are the absurdly hilarious parts of the experience — much like the memes and witty puns featured on PPPoker’s Instagram. Both the film and the social media account try to showcase a different side to the often intimidating world of poker, while also letting you take a peek into the players’ minds. This gives audiences an entertaining glimpse of what the world of gambling is really like, throwing some hilarity in the process and seeing a side not often portrayed in modern media.
That is where this film truly shines – it introduces a slew of memorable characters, all with their own quirks and intricacies. Many of the characters in the film are inspired by Van Patten’s own experiences. And while some of them play like your typical Hollywood stereotypes, he’s filled them in by adding his own twist to the played-out tropes. It also helps that Van Patten himself stars in the film alongside his wife, Eileen Davidson, who many may recognize from CBS’ The Young and the Restless. The pair give the film some much-needed chemistry despite not being in too many scenes together.
All in all, the film does its job by supplying a sufficient amount of laughs throughout its 92-minute runtime. It also functions as a meta-commentary of sorts about the gambling industry and its patrons, showing how far someone can go just to win a wager. And while the film does fall victim to things such as mediocre camerawork and its middling production design, it does its best with its limited budget. At the end of the day, 7 Days to Vegas is able to deliver a good time.