May 07, 2008

What Happens in Vegas

We'd like to present you with the only
reason you're in "What Happens in Vegas"

Grade: C –
Director: Tom Vaughan
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Ashton Kutcher, Lake Bell, Queen Latifah, Dennis Farina, and Rob Corddry
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes

What Happens in Vegas is as forgettable and banal as you would expect from a film that draws its title from the set-up half of an advertising catchphrase. To be fair, this ultra-formulaic rom-com largely delivers on its promise of a shrill, irreverent look at love and marriage. But, in lieu of wit, screenwriter Dana Fox – whose sole previous credit is the even-more-insipid The Wedding Date – concocts predictable pap so uninspired its plot lines could have been drawn using crayon.

After Joy (Cameron Diaz) – the world’s most improbable Wall Street commodities trader – gets dumped by her fiancĂ©e-to-be, and Jack (Ashton Kutcher) – the world’s most archetypal slacker – gets fired by his boss/dad (Treat Williams), each drag their respective best friends (Lake Bell plays Joy’s gal pal; Rob Corddry is also Jack’s lawyer) along for a Las Vegas weekend getaway. The two strangers hookup while club-hopping, which ends with a drunken stagger down the aisle of a Sin City wedding chapel. Just as sobriety begins to segue into morning-after regret, a dispute over a $3 million slot-machine jackpot causes the court to conscript the misbegotten newlyweds into six months of unholy matrimony.

What ensues in an amalgam of The Odd Couple and The War of the Roses, although I am still wondering why Jack can afford a Manhattan bachelor pad while Joy, the successful career woman, remains homeless. The two’s round-robin of standard-issue invectives and reprisals – he won’t leave the toilet seat down; she spends too long in the bathroom – designed to force their insignificant other to abandon an already sham marriage is interrupted only by the occasional forced marriage counseling session, refereed by Queen Latifah in a thankless bit part.

The audience simply does not hold even a scintilla of care for either of these brats, and by the time director Tom Vaughn asks them to dial-down the buffoonery and us to view them as something resembling rational human beings, we find ourselves hoping each leaves empty-handed after their booty evaporates like so much gold dust at the end of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

I grew weary of Diaz’s brash Something About Mary rehash long ago, and although Kutcher is adept at playing the impudent hipster doofus, channeling complex emotions causes him slip into some strange form of catatonia. Fox gives his secondary characters such grade-school monikers as Hater, Tipper (rhymes with “stripper,” we are incessantly reminded), Richard Banger (you see this joke coming a mile away), and Judge Whopper (Dennis Miller in an oddly restrained turn). Still, this film is watchable only for its decent supporting cast, highlighted by an underutilized Zach Galifianakis and Corddry in the first post-Daily Show project to effectively tap his highly acerbic comic brand. Otherwise, What Happens in Vegas should have stayed in development hell.

Neil Morris

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

most of the chick flicks i've seen with Ashton Kutcher have been at least halfway decent, A Lot Like Love is one example