REVIEW: What Happens in Vegas [2008]

“Oh Lovebiscuit; Yes Tickle-Monkey?”

I went into the screening of What Happens in Vegas thinking I was in store for a train-wreck; I mean the trailer looked horrible. I suffer the pain for all of you readers, though, in the hopes that you won’t have to live the same fate. In actuality, the movie ended up being a same-old, same-old rom-com that had some laughs, but overall just plodded along to its inevitable conclusion. Being that this pair of New Yorkers, married after a night of heavy drinking in Vegas, must spend six months as man and wife before a judge decides what to do with the three million dollar jackpot they won, one would think we’d get a lot of their trials and tribulations, probably way too sentimental for anyone to stand. Instead, we get gag after gag as the two attempt to sabotage the union to take the money for themselves. Only about half the film takes place during the six months, however, it feels like six years. I couldn’t believe the running time was only an hour and a half, it felt a lot longer. All this said; if someone has their mind set on seeing a film of this kind, my words would not detract you—something the producers know. I’ll say one thing, whomever came up with the marketing plan of selling Las Vegas with the tag used in the title here is going to bed with a smile this weekend, snuggling up with the piles of money overflowing his room—he couldn’t ask for a better affirmation of that simple phrase.

The premise itself is just a rehash of the same dried up plot used in Hollywood whenever the bank seems a tad low. Man and woman get together, are forced to stay together against their will, and eventually find out all the good things they didn’t notice about each other beforehand. We have the stereotypical friends trying to help their buddy come out of the situation unscathed and a winner; the token parents and ex-fiance who set into motion the events that get the odd couple to meet; and the supporting roles that help infuse some much needed comedy into an otherwise stale story. I do jest somewhat; the movie isn’t without some good moments. The scenes that are overplayed in the tv spots fall flat of course, but there are other moments saved for the big show that deliver. I will admit to loving the work retreat for our leading lady, mostly due to Dennis Farina’s scene-stealing cameo as her boss. He is absolutely hilarious, whether it is his mannerisms, his facial expressions towards Chong and her husband, or his complete exuberance tempered with a strict work ethic.

I should probably mention the leads before I go too far. Admittedly, I don’t care very much for either Cameron Diaz or Ashton Kutcher. If I hadn’t the knowledge of Kutcher being married to Demi Moore, I’d have been totally taken out of the film just by the age difference between these two lovers. No offense to Diaz, but she isn’t getting any younger. Their real age difference is only six years, yet it appears to be much more here. Diaz isn’t horrible, she is herself; if that is your thing you won’t be disappointed. Kutcher, however, actually surprised me a bit. He is quite likeable here, even when partaking in blatant subterfuge and hijinks. Far from being a great actor, he plays the role perfectly, even hamming it up to uncomfortable levels when “acting” in his role. Trying to show emotions that his character is faking leads to very funny moments and such horrible acting one must credit him for seeming natural when being himself. The two have some chemistry and you can see the abrasive union mixed with understanding and an ability to be truthful to each other. When they begin to fall for one another towards the end, (seriously, this shouldn’t be ruining anything for you), I really started to enjoy their relationship. It was a good payoff from the over-the-top antics of hatred at the start.

As for the supporting cast, there are some gems and some wasted talent. Once again, much like Stranger Than Fiction, I don’t know what Queen Latifah is doing. I really enjoy her and find it incomprehensible that she needs to take throwaway roles like this to stay afloat…someone please offer her a real part. Lake Bell is funny and endearingly sassy and sarcastic as Diaz’s best friend Tipper while Rod Corddry vaults himself out of my not-a-fan-of ranks to be funny at all times. It appears that he can be likeable when playing an ass, rather than a man of power that doesn’t realize he is an ass (Harold & Kumar 2). Treat Williams brings some nice touch to his father role, some added laughs as well as heart, and even Zach Galifianakis has his moments playing pretty much the same role he does in everything he touches.

I really wanted to just bash on this film, but while feeling long and without any originality, I didn’t absolutely hate it. The acting was fine and not without its moments while some of the setups delivered on their attempts for comedy. You will start to get tired of the games they play with each other as the ante is upped over and over again, more for the benefit of the audience then any real plot necessity. Once the two calm down and start to really see each other is when I must say I got a bit caught up in everything. Still, though, I can’t recommend anyone go out and spend your hard-earned Friday night cash for this one. All I can say is that sitting through the first 90 minutes does payoff with the greatest two scenes of the entire movie at the start of the credits. If you’re already paid for and in your seat, don’t leave early; those final moments are priceless.

What Happens in Vegas 3/10 | ★


2 Thoughts to “REVIEW: What Happens in Vegas [2008]”

  1. Andrea

    We all know that Las Vegas is where people run away to elope, spend cash, and to let loose. I enjoyed seeing this movie twice in the theater and loved the humor between Jack and Joy as they suffered through matrimony. The end with the lighthouse was my favorite scene, because it showed that he knew her and where she was. I do enjoy Kutcher’s acting in this film because he can be funny in one scene, an ass in another, then serious and determined in another. Jack appeared to be unsure about his career and took his father for granted. A great scene was when Joy stuck up for Jack when his father criticized his table. The movie did not seem to be more than 90 minutes. The movie was well constructed with the amount of time given.

  2. its like siskel and ebert today 🙂
    reading over my review again (i’ll admit to not remembering a whole lot from this film as it was almost a year ago) i realized and recalled not hating it completely. i might have been too strong in my overall dislike of Kutcher, (i did admit to thinking he was good here), because i actually really enjoyed him in The Butterfly Effect, minus one scene. What Happens in Vegas isn’t a total loss, and for what its worth, it delivers what it promises. i just hoped it would exceed them, but, for me, until the end, when the antics stopped and the two finally started being human, i was bored. the last act is good though.

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