Is there really
any legitimate reason for me to be reviewing What Happens in
Vegas? In truth, there is probably only one: that this
write-up will garner significant readership because the movie
will rake in a healthy gross at the box-office.
The fact of the
matter is that no negative review of the movie will discourage
any potential viewer from seeing it (nor would a positive one
encourage many of those already not interested to check it out).
As a result, to review What Happens in Vegas seems a bit
of a useless task. The studio, 20th Century Fox, has
intentionally made barely any mention of what the film is about
in its promotional materials—merely touting a “Cameron vs.
Ashton”-angle (referring to Diaz and Kutcher, of course) on
billboards and bus-posters—and for good reason. Everybody that
flocks to see What Happens in Vegas this weekend will do
so only because they like its two leads. That the moronic plot
involves the two getting married in a drunken night-on-the-town
flurry across Las Vegas will not be of anyone’s concern. The
picture has a built-in audience.
Happens in Vegas is very much “The Cameron and Ashton Show”,
and the viewer’s enjoyment of the film will likely reflect how
appealing that idea sounds to them. For the most part, Kutcher
and Diaz are free to do whatever they want here so long as it
exists within the script’s loose plot-mold. After getting
married for reasons only explained by inebriation, his Jack wins
the $3 million jackpot on a slot-machine with her Joy’s quarter.
A debate over the cash ensues, as does one over the marriage,
with a Dennis Miller-played judge freezing the green away in a
bank until Jack and Joy put forth a legitimate six-month-effort
to work their newfound civil union out.
So Jack and
Joy, very much opposed to the idea of bonding but eager to claim
their fair share of the $3 million, spend six months in each
other’s company, regularly attending sessions of therapy (with
none other than Queen Latifah, of course!) scheduled at the
court’s order. Kutcher and Diaz pout and speak rapidly about how
excruciating the other is for the film’s entire second act. And,
rather predictably, the exercise becomes unbearable for those
who are not mega-fans of either star. I like both Kutcher and
Diaz for what their limited talents are worth, but the complete
self-indulgence that they both exercise here in representing the
conflict between Jack and Joy is inexcusable: they are playing
hammed-up versions of themselves, not written characters.
With that all
being said, What Happens in Vegas actually makes
something of a pleasant turnaround in its final act. As
expected, Jack and Joy begin to develop an actual relationship
after being forced to spend so much time together. Minute by
minute—and not without the help of a substantial helping of
movie magic—they fall in love and begin to act like a real
married couple. (Ohmygod, right!?) Against all odds, this is the
best part of the movie. Despite the leads’ tendency to totally
overplay the movie’s internal conflicts, they show an uncanny
ability to make the ultimate romance achieved—ironically the
most unrealistic thing about the movie—feel authentic. The
story-thread is entirely welcome amidst the film’s disastrous
whole and, I admit, I fell for Diaz and Kutcher’s more relaxed,
less showy approach to the passages that it involved.
its unexpectedly strong last-minute comeback, however, What
Happens in Vegas remains utterly inept on the whole by the
time the credits roll. Jack and Joy’s well-executed romance
ultimately only allows the movie to exist as a mere failure
rather than as a Herculean disaster. I’m not speaking
hyperbolically when I claim that, given its godawful first hour,
What Happens in Vegas’ final act would’ve practically had
to have rivaled that of Citizen Kane for the film to have
earned my wholehearted recommendation in the end.
5.3.2008 at the Pacific Glendale 18 in Glendale, CA.
What Happens in Vegas is rated PG-13
and runs 98 minutes.
Back to Home