What Happens in Vegas

One of the first reviews I ever wrote for Cinema Blend was of a fluffy puff film called Fool’s Gold. It was a horrible movie and in retrospect I think I used way too many words to enumerate its horribleness. Does a bad movie really deserve a plethora of wordage devoted to its badness? Reader Nicole (the soul of brevity) didn’t think so and left a comment to that point summing up in 6 words what I waffled through in 2000: “OMG! This movie was so stupid!”

Helen, you were right. That movie was so stupid. And I apologize because I’m going to steal your line now. For what else could I possibly write about What Happens in Vegas besides “OMG! This movie was so stupid!”?

Cameron Diaz, looking more like a plasticine Barbie doll than ever, plays the drippy Joy, a Wall Street broker with a dickish boyfriend to who’s just not that into her. Meanwhile, across town, Ashton Kutcher is the underachieving blue-collar boy Jack who’s been fired from his job by his own father. Serendipitously both sad sacks (with the help of their matchy-matchy BFF’s Lake Bell and Rob Corddry respectively) decide to flee their bad luck and head out to Vegas at that same time. Crazy, clichéd “Vegas” montage ensues, during which it seems that the very inebriated Joy and Jack get married. And they actually really hate each other. And they’ve also hit a 3 million dollar jackpot.

Refused a quick divorce by an unsympathetic judge (Dennis Miller), the two are forced to cohabitate and attend counseling to prove that they’re working on their marriage. With their eyes squarely on the jackpot money, Jack and Joy set out on quests to make each other look like the bad spouse. This is supposed to be the fun part of the movie, where we get to watch the characters conceal their budding desires with sharp barbs and funny hi-jinks, all the while falling for each other. However with the total lack of chemistry between Kutcher and Diaz, it’s painful to watch these two juvenile dummies bitch and moan at each other.

I know what the film is going for here and it’s astonishing how badly off target it hits. What Happens in Vegas is the devil spawn of those 1940’s screwball comedies, but bereft of those films’ intelligence and wit. This is a monotonous exercise in high concept (the press materials note that screenwriter Dana Fox hit upon the title of the film before actually generating a story for it). As it happens the story manages to be both implausible and predictable at the same time and not in an “it’s so bad it’s good” way. Choppy editing doesn’t help matters. Neither does the depressing presence of Rob Corddry.

Fine films have been made about the vagaries of Vegas, but What Happens in Vegas is not one of them. Ultimately, there is more Vegas in the title than there actually is in the film. If you must go see this clunker (I pity you), try to make your escape after the Vegas montage has passed. Who cares what happens after Vegas?