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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 Eugene Novikov

"I'm so sick of this crap."
1 stars

I write this about an hour after seeing Eddie Izzard perform his latest stand-up set in front of an opera house full of nerds. I want to talk about art and transcendence and how awesome it is to witness genius happen. Instead, I'm here to tell you about WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS, which is as charmless and stupid and tone-deaf as Eddie Izzard is hilarious and brilliant. Maybe I'm getting cranky in my old age, but my god: I am so tired of these miserable things that pass for romantic comedies these days, thoughtless assembly-line products that recycle the same components in ever-dumber packaging over and over again. I go to a lot of these hopeless-seeming releases on the chance I'll be presently surprised, but the non-descript PG-13 rom-com is fast becoming one category that actually is hopeless.

I mean, first there's the premise. A woman (Cameron Diaz) who has just been dumped by her fiancee in front of a group of friends she had gathered for his surprise birthday party, and a man (Ashton Kutcher) who has just been fired by his father both independently decide to spend the weekend in Las Vegas, hoping to drink and revel away their woes. They meet, hit it off, and -- despite being completely incompatible as individuals -- marry each other in a late-night, drunken Vegas stupor. So far so good. Then, just as they're about to agree on an annulment, Kutcher's Jack wins $3 million in a slot machine jackpot. Haha! They go to court hoping to split the money and go their separate ways. But no: the judge, played by Dennis Miller, tells them that he's fed up with kids these days devaluing the institution of marriage by treating it like a throwaway lark, and sentences them to be married to each other for six months. And they have to try to make the marriage work -- counseling and all -- or they won't see a penny of their money.

What? Yes. To teach a lesson about the importance of marriage, a judge sentences two people who hate each other to remain married against their will. Do Jack and Joy appeal this absurdity to a higher court? Protest that the judge has gone completely mad? No: they move in together and start seeing a marriage counselor (Queen Latifah), who, despite being a trained therapist, insists on compliance with the court order and tries to make them "work" on a relationship that does not exist.

Now: are Jack and Joy destined to fall in love despite despising each other, being forced to cohabitate, and having their eyes on a million-and-a-half dollars each? Uh, I don't know. Probably. But first, they're going to scheme to get the entire $3 million by enticing the other one to cheat on their non-existent relationship, and learn important life lessons in the process. It should be noted that these life lessons are completely arbitrary: it turns out that Jack doesn't believe in himself enough to finish anything he starts, and that Joy is unhealthily obsessed with pleasing other people, but it could as easily have been anything else (He doesn't believe in love! She's incapable of trust!). The character "themes" are just imported wholesale into the film and spelled out as clearly as possible. And the screenplay's ideas of redemption are straight-up absurd: Jack, at one point, has a confidence breakthrough by winning at craps.

What Happens in Vegas is a comedy, supposedly, but the only sign of that comes from the "best friend" supporting characters, played by the very funny Rob Corddry and Lake Bell. The best the film can come up with for Diaz and Kutcher is to have them peg each other with oranges and swing at one another with baguettes. Kutcher is bland and unlikable in a role where it would have been hard to be anything else, and Diaz's character is downright hateful.

At one point, there's a glimmer of hope that the film would forgo the obligatory false conflict and false dawn and skip straight to the happy ending. Of course, the real conflict rears its head soon thereafter, and the movie listlessly flogs old formulas for fifteen more painful minutes. Then there's a triumphant oceanside denoument that made me want to reach out and stab someone.

You'd think that at some point I'd simply acknowledge that these movies aren't for me and give up. But the thing is that convention isn't the problem. As I never tire of saying, formulas are formulas because they work. For proof, you need only look at director Tom Vaughan's last film, the lovely Starter for 10. The problem is that so many (so, so many) of these movies go through the motions of the formulas without any thought, or wit, or humanity. It's just a mechanical, profitable exercise. Well, as Eddie Izzard would say, fuck off.

(Reprinted from

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originally posted: 05/09/08 08:57:09
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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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