Fox // 2008 // 101 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // August 26th, 2008
What Happens In Vegas manages to do a couple of things that I've long looked forward to. Not only is it the first movie that I know of with a premise that seems to be based on a Chamber of Commerce slogan, but it combines two of the more obnoxious actors on my list together in one movie for the world to see. Are the results pretty much to be expected?
This is one of those films where the trailer pretty much gave away the movie. In case you're one of the fortunate ones who hasn't seen the trailer, the film was written by Dana Fox (The Wedding Date) and directed by Tom Vaughan (Starter For 10). Joy (Cameron Diaz, The Holiday) and Jack (Ashton Kutcher, Open Season find themselves in separate personal letdowns. Joy's fiance has just broken up with her, while Jack has been fired from his job by his own father. Rather than logically pick themselves up and come back with a new perspective, their respective friends take them to Las Vegas, where through coincidence they run into each other and over the course of a drunken evening, decide to get married. When they sober up and realize what they've done, they decide to break up. But before they get the marriage annulled, Jack wins $3 million in a casino, and Joy believes she's earned some of that money. So by court decree, the two are supposed to spend six months together, like it or not, and then a decision will be made on the money. If you've seen one romantic comedy, you can see where all of this is going to go.
I should stipulate, for the record, that I find Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher two particularly loathsome individuals. I'm sure that they are nice people if I got to know them, but one seems to be holding onto looks that have just vanished, while the other is Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher was the host of Punk'd, a show that pranked celebrities from time to time. The reason it focused on celebrities is because they tried doing it to "real people" once, and they were so happy about it that they sued Kutcher and MTV for damages, which were eventually settled out of court. The two stars seem to live in such an isolated bubble of sycophantism that getting them to work for a living might cause heavy bleeding or a stroke.
And who really wanted to see these two in a film anyway? Or to put it another way, why now? If it was 2004, I could maybe understand it, but in 2008, both actors look tired and bored with the film, and it shows on screen and on the disc. They don't seem to care that their characters have no imagination whatsoever. Diaz is a floor trader on Wall Street, which goes totally against her persona and is immediately unbelievable. Kutcher is much in the same way, working in a wood crafting shop and building furniture, which he never seems to complete, which sounds a bit like life. This lack of caring shows in the scenes they have together too; it's like when they're supposed to be serious and care for one another, they'd rather be farting on each other's pillows. Kutcher's smile is supposed to be coy, but it almost looks like he's waiting for the wife to call and order him home so he can flee this project that is completely fubar.
Even the supporting cast is largely ambivalent about the whole thing. The couple's marriage counselor is played by Queen Latifah (Mad Money), and what limited screen time she has consists of comical double takes that aren't funny. Not that she was that funny to begin with, but I'm just saying. The court judge is played by Dennis Miller. You remember him, right? Well, not only does it look like he dyed his beard, but every word seems to be punctuated with a bit of venom. It's almost as if he knew this thing was a mistake from the moment he came on set or something. One of the film's few good things, an appearance by Zach Galifianakis, has maybe four of five scenes, but wasn't given the screen time that he could have had to make this thing funny. But in the grand scheme of things, this was a minor mistake compared to everything else that was going on.
The disc's extras are also looking past the film that is on the disc too. A trailer for the Eddie Murphy flop Meet Dave is here, which is a slight mystery, but then, in the commentary with Vaughan and editor Matt Friedman, it's explained that this film and Dave shared the same stock footage of New York. So there's one movie the disc promotes. The other is the upcoming film Marley and Me, with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. The disc claims to have an inside look, but if a teaser counts as an inside look, so be it. Most of the aforementioned commentary starts each sentence with "we didn't have a lot of time," or words to that effect, which might explain the overall nature of the production. In fact, Vaughan and Friedman might actually be nice guys, but the fact that they worked with Kutcher and Diaz makes me dislike them automatically. From there, most of the extras are in high definition, which is a good thing here. A five-minute gag reel gave me more laughs than the entire feature, while the "Bottoms Up!" game is nothing more than the drinking game "I Never" superimposed onto a DVD, which I guess implies that drinking heavily might make the film more watchable?
After that, six deleted and extended scenes are next (7:57), but most are pretty forgettable, along with the interview with Diaz and Kutcher, as they talk about Vegas for almost 10 minutes. The slightly funny pieces are the in-character piece of Stephen J. Hader and the interview that Galifianakis conducts with Vaughan. But, like the film, those pieces are few and far between. At least the film's 2.40:1 widescreen MPEG-4 encoded transfer and DTS-HD Master Audio lossless technical specs gave me pause as to whether or not Diaz can still play the young thirty-something, because that's one of the few pieces of entertainment I had.
The other funny bit was watching Rob Corddry (Blades of Glory) as Hader, or as he's called in the movie, Hater. Yeah, even the names are stupid. But it seems like most of his ad libs did manage to stay in the final cut, and those ad libs were hilarious, I've got to admit. And when you're watching a film like this with the stars that are cast, you're really doing nothing more than watching everyone else and seeing if they go off the script and if it's funny. Corddry was the only one worth checking out for laughs.
What Happens In Vegas was released as counter programming to Iron Man in May of 2008, and the film made $80 million domestically and over $200 million worldwide. I honestly think this is one of those times where it's ok to hate the rest of the world, as this does nothing but further the careers of both Diaz and Kutcher, while inflicting more pain among the rest of us who want to watch movies that don't have them in it. Damn you world, damn you all to hell!!!
Snake eyes! Off to the jail for ye!
Review content copyright © 2008 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (Widescreen)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Commentary with Director Tom Vaughan and Editor Matt Friedman
* Interactive Drinking Game
* Cast Interviews
* Deleted/Extended Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Digital Copy
* Official Site