What Happens in Vegas Should've Stayed in Vegas
- Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2008 5 May
DVD Release Date: August 26, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: May 9, 2008
Rating: PG-13 (for sexual and rude content, language, including a drug reference)
Genre: Romantic comedy
Run Time: 99 min.
Director: Tom Vaughan
Actors: Cameron Diaz, Ashton Kutcher, Rob Corddry, Lake Bell, Jason Sudeikis, Treat Williams, Queen Latifah, Dennis Miller
With a threadbare plot straight out of a sitcom (remember when Ross and Rachel nearly drank their weight in alcohol and drunkenly tied the knot in Friends?), What Happens in Vegas is not only the worst commercial for Sin City I’ve seen in a while, but the comedy is so insipid and low-brow you would’ve thought the script was penned by a junior-high boy.
Well, unless someone thinks it’s funny when Jack (Ashton Kutcher) defiantly pees in the sink when Joy (Cameron Diaz) takes too long getting ready in the morning. Or wait, maybe those belly laughs should come fast and furious when Jack gropes himself and then places his hands in the popcorn Joy’s snacking on. Or wait, maybe it’s when Joy starts pelting fruit at Jack so he’ll trip and fall on the way to their marriage counseling session. Yeah, now that’s funny!
Before any of these supposedly rip-roaring shenanigans take place, however, the film’s worst flaw is a story that doesn’t add up from the outset. First off, we’re supposed to believe that Cameron Diaz (yes, blonde, leggy Cameron Diaz of There’s Something About Mary fame) is an uptight Wall Street girl who wants nothing more than to get married to Mason (Jason Sudeikis) a troll-ish guy with the collective appeal of a watering can. And then we’re supposed to take another leap of faith and think that Mason would actually dump her for being too much of a “planner,” which coincidentally takes place as she’s in the middle of throwing him a surprise birthday party. So what’s a just-dumped girl to do?
While most girls would rent their favorite chick flick and seek solace with Ben and Jerry, Joy heads to Vegas, gets drunk and marries Jack, a slacker, commitment-phobe whose own dad just gave him the heave-ho from working in the family business. Of course, this coupling would’ve never happened if they’d both been sober, but they’re willing to face the music and procure a hasty annulment once the hormones have worn off the next morning. Or wait, maybe not. When Jack uses Joy’s quarter in a nearby slot machine, a gamble that’s worth a quick $3 million, all bets are off.
After all, Joy’s not about to let Jack cut and run (although you’re half wishing she would so the movie could be over already) now that she’s entitled to half. When they appear before the cranky judge (Dennis Miller), back in New York, though, he’s not about to let these two selfish people simply divide the money and move on. Nooo, that would be too easy. Instead, he sentences them to six months of hard marriage, complete with counseling sessions with Dr. Twitchell (Queen Latifah).
In more sophisticated hands, this script could’ve taken a smart, cautionary tale turn about what two people are willing to do for money. Better yet, Jack and Joy could learn a thing or two about what makes a marriage relationship work. But instead all the viewer gets is a bunch of half-baked hijinks and the predictable rom-com formula without much in the way of romance or comedy.
It’s not that Kutcher and Diaz don’t give it their best shot comedically, it’s that they just don’t have much to work with that’s funny in the first place. In fact, all the even remotely clever lines have been relegated to their oddly named friends, Hater (Rob Corddry) and Tipper (Lake Bell), proving that What Happens in Vegas should’ve just stayed in Vegas because there’s no redemptive value to this story in the real world.
- Drugs/Alcohol: There’s rarely a scene without some serious alcohol consumption. Several times, Jack and Joy are swilling champagne straight from the bottle. And on the night that kick-starts the story, they’re seriously inebriated. Weed is also referenced, and at one point, Jack sneaks caffeine pills into Joy’s smoothie, making her hyper, and then, exceedingly agitated.
- Language/Profanity: There’s a constant stream of profanity, including instances where the Lord’s name is taken in vain and rude middle-finger gestures.
- Sex/Nudity: Much like Made of Honor, the movie seriously pushes the limits of the PG-13 rating in the sex and double entendre department. While Jim and Joy’s lone sexual encounter is covered by a bed sheet and then shown again in a quick montage, the constant crude sex talk that involves everything from sexual role play to masturbation to commentary on specific body parts is what’s most disturbing. Also in an off-camera shot, Joy exposes her breast to the taxi driver so she can beat Jack to their mandatory counseling session. And she, along with all the Vegas girls and her friend Tipper are often shown in only bra and panties or skimpy attire.
- Violence/Gore: Only of the comedic variety.