Posted: 05/17/2008

 

What Happens in Vegas

(2008)

by Laura Tucker




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Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz are just likable people, so whenever they’re onscreen, it’s a well-received movie. Starring in What Happens In Vegas together, it’s of course going to be a success, no matter what the story. Lucky for them, it was a creative story that worked to their comedic strengths, although it was a bit predictable at times.

Joy (Diaz) is a perfectionist and ultimate planner. She plans a date with her fiance, telling him, it’s to talk about setting a date, and all she hears from him is how she has to have a plan to make a plan. She gets off work at the NYSE and heads home to the place she shares with her fiancé. Instead of going out to dinner, she’s having a surprise party for him, but he busts in, with everyone hiding in the dark, and tells her he’s breaking up with her, despite “the things you’ve been trying with my butt.”

Jack (Kutcher) seems to have no serious goals in life. He has a weekly date with a girl who shows up at his apartment with exotic bedroom fantasies, like dressing a girl scout and trying to sell Jack cookies. His father tries to fire him from his cabinet-making job, but Jack begs for a second chance if he can win a quick game of basketball. It won’t work for him this time, unlike all the others, and he’s fired for good.

Joy and Jack both go out that night and meet up with their best friends at separate bars, drowning their sorrows. Not knowing where they will go from there, they both head to Las Vegas with their friends, where they cross paths. Joy doesn’t want to have anything to do with Jack until he challenges her, telling her he bets she’s the type of girl who has to have a plan to make plans, the same thing her fiancé said to her when he dumped her. That’s all it takes for her decide to live a little.

We can all see where this is going, can’t we? That’s the only problem with this film. It’s funny, really funny, but we know every step they’re going to take before they take it. In martial arts we talk about telegraphing our moves so our opponent knows where we’ll go next. It’s the same thing here. The humor and likability of the stars is the only thing that saves it.

After Jack tells her she’s “pretty hostile for a girl named Joy,” they end up telling each other their sorrows and getting really, really drunk. Of course, in Las Vegas, they wake up the next morning married. They decide on an annulment, and just after, Jack tosses a coin in a slot machine and wins the big money. Joy argues the coin was hers, and they end up in court to settle the matter. The judge (Dennis Miller) tells them “gay people aren’t destroying the sanctity of marriage, you are,” and he sentences them to six months of “hard marriage” with weekly counseling.

I don’t need to tell you what happens from hereon out, as surely you can figure it out as easily as I did. But the situations they put each other in, trying to annoy one another to either get pleasure out of the other’s pain or trick the other into disobeying the agreement and having to forfeit their half of the big money, makes the movie.

Dennis Miller basically plays himself as the judge, but it works. Dennis Farina, before he forgot about putting loaded guns in his carryon luggage, plays the part of Joy’s boss, who is deciding whether to give a promotion to her or her arch-rival. Treat Williams play a very convincing father to Jack, making me suddenly feel very old. But again, it’s Diaz and Kutcher who steal the show, as they’re just so damn likable!

Laura Tucker is a freelance writer providing reviews of movies and television, among other things, at Viewpoints and Reality Shack, and operates a celebrity gossip blog, Troubled Hollywood.



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