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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.76%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 2.38%
Pretty Bad: 16.67%
Total Crap76.19%

5 reviews, 12 user ratings

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What Happens in Vegas
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by Erik Childress

"Makes Made of Honor Look Like Once"
1 stars

Despite what is destined to be one of the most negative reviews I write all year, I would nevertheless like to offer a sarcastic “thank you” to the filmmakers of What Happens In Vegas. Never before has one film managed to destroy two things I hold very sacred – Vegas and Huey Lewis. The former, very obvious in its desecration, turning a vacation spot my friends and I call our second home into a den of iniquity where once again the bad apples ruin the sanctity of its escape in only about 15 minutes of screen time. On the flip side, there’s the brief but distinctly awful cover version of the Huey & News classic, “I Want A New Drug” that plays on the soundtrack for all of 15 seconds but is a direct thought to every member of the audience who is going to need something a lot stronger than Sour Patch Kids to make it through this unrelentless excuse for a romantic comedy.

Joy McNally (Cameron Diaz) is a New York stockbroker; the kind of person who “makes plans to make plans.” While attempting to surprise her fiancé (Jason Sudeikis) with a birthday party, he one-ups her by dumping her on the spot. Jack Fuller (Ashton Kutcher) is more of a slacker whose downtime at a furniture-making plant gets him fired by his own father (Treat Williams). Both Joy and Jack, in their own corners of town, both decide at the same moment to get away to Vegas each with best pal in tow (Lake Bell & Rob Corddry as the equally unfunny sidekicks). After one of those room mix-ups that happens only in movies, the four get comped through the eyeballs and have an all-night drunk fest that takes them to about sixteen locations including a wedding chapel where Joy & Jack end up a married couple.

After some ego-bruising insults in the morning, the pair decide to split for good but not before Jack takes one of Joy’s quarters and wins a three million-dollar jackpot making this the first time a Vegas slot actually enabled a marriage. Thanks to a judge (Dennis Miller) who sees the two of them as we do (annoying, immature morons), he freezes the cash and sentences them to “six months HARD marriage.” Only if they can prove to him through counseling (with Queen Latifah) that they are able to remain civil and act like a married couple will they have the Solomon-esque split of wisdom and cash at the end of their run. Both are intent to make the other miserable though through a series of childish Defending the Caveman-like stunts until the inevitable moment when they realize they might just like each other.

Of all the things insulting about What Happens In Vegas (and there are many beyond that Huey blasphemy), this final act of goo-goo eyes and contrition is as abrupt as Tyler Durden splicing a frame of his shlong into a kids flick (which is worth bringing up if only to remind people of when Fox occasionally made a good film.) When Jack realizes in the film’s final moments where he can find this sudden love-of-his-life, it’s a good thing that she’s apparently been standing on the same beach for about two days straight. This is the same control freak, mind you, that has been trying to rid herself of this crotch-grabbing, sink-peeing, toilet-seat lifting, sheet-stinkin’ man-child and because this jobless idiot coaches little league she’s halfway to their golden anniversary? If the adjectives weren’t enough, by now you’ve seen the commercials that have given away every tactic used by the couple to annoy the other including the all-girl party and spousal abuse, which riffs on Sleeping with the Enemy, the 1991 Fox thriller with Julia Roberts that a much better film (say one from the Apatow clan) could have soaked for genuine laughs as an obscure reference point with a more talented comic actor.

Ashton Kutcher already went through the nuptial doldrums in another Fox comedy just a few years ago called Just Married, where he managed some offbeat chemistry with an equally manic Brittany Murphy. Not a great comedy by any respect, but it’s His Girl Friday next to this which is already risking it all flirting with potentially dark material and turning it into such a shrewish, compromised bit of longevity that is the only lasting metaphor about the institution of marriage that writer Dana Fox (The Wedding Date) squeezes out of her lusterless, rambling effort. Most guys would manage to find a way to be married to someone who resembles Cameron Diaz for six months, especially if $1.5 million would be waiting for them at the end. What precisely is the wrinkle in Jack’s lifestyle that makes it so hard for him to tolerate this? It only services the audience to dislike him even further which is quite a setup considering a happy ending is never in doubt. Only slightly more believable is Joy’s womanly annoyance of having to put up with this slob, but her actions are so solemnly clichéd from the “Why Women Annoy Us” handbook that charges of misogyny would be thrown at the film if it wasn’t written by a woman.

No one will mistake What Happens In Vegas for The War of the Roses (another great Fox film from back in the day) except through the passing recollection of two unhappily married people trying to one-up each other for monetary solitude and it’s PG-13 rating is a constant reminder that it will never reach past urination for jokes either literal or figurative about genitalia dentata (although junk-punching is employed as a throwaway gag during the end credits.) Dana Fox’s deplorably witless script is too base to reach for commentary on the state of marriage or to even answer the basic question of why Joy couldn’t just hang out with her single pal for six months and show up for counseling and court sessions when needed. Even when Jack & Joy find common ground on a love for Raiders of the Lost Ark (and who couldn’t, really?), Fox and director Tom Vaughan completely blow the chance for an obvious Temple of Doom homage when the pair, in separate bedrooms, grow restless about wanting to go over to the other. A nine year-old child could have made that leap, but that’s overreaching the maturity and intellect of the characters and filmmakers by about eleven years.

The brief allure of Vegas’ shining lights was enough to project me a month ahead to the time I’ll be spending covering the CineVegas Film Festival where, at some point, I’ll likely be over at the new-ish Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino (renovated from the defunct Aladdin) and reminded of two of the worst films of 2008. Publicity aside, why Planet Hollywood would want anything to do with this film or “21” (not to mention it’s association with massive rooming gaffes and being taken by card counters) is beyond me because it’s a nice place. Maybe to make it up, they can book me into the same room populated by Cameron Diaz and Lake Bell, book Huey Lewis and the News providing front row seats for us all and supplying enough in-room toiletries to wash off and out all traces of the film that would draw a bullet from Bugsy Siegel for bastardizing his vision of the perfect escape from reality.

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originally posted: 05/09/08 14:00:00
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User Comments

5/12/16 David Hollingsworth Worse than getting your teeth drilled. 1 stars
9/04/15 David Hollingsworth Another crappy Diaz rom com. 1 stars
7/04/09 Jim Typical Kick-In-The-Balls humor. Disappointing. 1 stars
5/19/09 mary m I loved it. Ashton and Cameron were really cute together. 5 stars
1/10/09 jssgarden this movie is terribly racist. It's not even funny, it's just stupid. 1 stars
9/15/08 ashton loved it!! ashton did really well not so much the others 5 stars
8/28/08 Jon g Ashton Kutcher movie = corny 2 stars
6/05/08 Jayson Diaz and Kutcher make a great comedic pair. 3 stars
5/26/08 George Barksdale Stay away 1 stars
5/22/08 Maryanne Oh my head...that was physically painful! 1 stars
5/13/08 Lou I broke my first rule - never see an Ashton Kutcherfilm - and paid dearly 1 stars
5/09/08 Jérémy A piece of shit. 1 stars
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  09-May-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 26-Aug-2008


  DVD: 26-Aug-2008

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