What Happens in Vegas ** (out of ****)

Director: Tom Vaughan
Writer: Dana Fox
Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Cameron Diaz, Lake Bell, Queen Latifah, Zach Galifianakis, Dennis Miller, Treat Williams, Dennis Farina
Rating: PG-13 (some sexual and crude content, and language, including a drug reference)
Running Time: 99 min
Release Date: 5/9/08

I have this theory that movies tend to come in pairs with a few months of each other. For example Braveheart and Rob Roy which both had Scottish warrior themes were released a couple of months apart. Or, how about and Speed which had bomb squad themes and and The Specialist with hit man themes from later the same year (1994) illustrates this tendency. So with 21 out earlier this year with a strong Vegas theme, we now have What Happens in Vegas as the complement or rather the contrast. The former film featured MIT whiz kids winning millions while this film features characters with noticeably less intellect winning millions.

Jack Fuller (Ashton Kutcher) has just been fired by his father (Treat Williams) from the family business. Meanwhile Joy McNally (Cameron Diaz) is floor trader on the New York Mercantile Exchange, who planned a surprise party for her fiancée, is surprised herself when he dumps her at the doorway with all of the guests hearing everything. Both commiserate with their best friends at their favorite bars. And, both decided to go to Vegas for some fun. It’s there that Jack and Joy meet under less that the best of circumstances and after some high jinx they end up in a drunken bash. The next morning they wake up married to each other.

The thought of a quick annulment fades fast when he wins three million dollars in a slot machine with her quarter. Their appearance before Judge Whopper (Dennis Miller) results in a novel sentence of “six months hard marriage” that sets up a series of comedy scenes with each contender trying to induce the other to violate the terms of the court order. They also have to attend weekly counseling sessions with Dr. Tripper (Queen Latifah) who monitors the couple’s progress.

Kutcher and Diaz are convincing in their roles. Diaz as the business women with a very structured approach to life pitted against the screw off played by Kutcher. We are treated various classic gender stereotypic situations, e.g. the position of the toilet seat or how long she spends in the bathroom. It doesn’t take much imagination to predict the ultimate evolution of their relationship either. This is no great film but it does provide a fair about of laughs.


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