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Set in Sin City, story revolves around two people who discover they've gotten married following a night of debauchery, with one of them winning a huge jackpot after playing the other's quarter. Unhappy pair try to undermine each other and get their hands on the money -- falling in love along the way.Written by
A lazy young man who's just been fired by his own father and an uptight financial sector striver just dumped by her boyfriend go to Las Vegas with pals to forget and, meeting, get married in a night of drunken carousing and diminished rationality. Then he wins $3 million on a slot machine with her quarter and they wind up in court fighting over an annulment and the right to the three million. The judge dislikes them both equally and sentences them to remain married and cohabit for six months and prove they're working to get along. A series of domestic plots and battles follows as each tries to outsmart the other to win in court and get all the money. They end up liking each other.
I know the reviewers are right to trash this movie, but they're missing something essential that would raise the audience rating a good many points above the critics' if they fail to note one thing that is the main reason why most of us go to see it. 'What Happens in Vegas' has not only the trappings of a big, expensive Hollywood comedy, the bright colors and nice sets, but two big glamorous stars, and they are not humiliated by being here, because they do look very good, and mismatch or not, look good together too.
Yes, the script is lousy. The setups and jokes are lame and clichéd and sometimes crass, tasteless, and adolescent. The arc is predictable. The progression isn't particularly interesting or even logical. The individual scenes consequently aren't ever pitched to be very funny and the dialog never surprises you either. But that very lack of high pitched comedy can be a plus if you find Cameron amazing and cool and Ashton gorgeous and appealing. The absence of a high laugh level such as the Apatow comedies occasionally achieve means they get to act more like people; they can register ordinary expressions instead of mere comic mugging and you get to look at them, which is one good and durable reason for watching this movie. And both are aging well. Ashton is big and handsome. The pretty-boy quality is fading into something more like an old time Hollywood leading man look. Cameron is sexy and elegant and looks great in a tight gown. Ashton has learned something since the staccato limitations of "That Seventies Show." He actually registers six or seven different, and recognizably human, expressions now. He's added sarcasm and meanness. He may be a people-pleaser forever, but he doesn't try as hard as he used to, nor does the good old boy personality hide a certain level of intelligence, just as the "Punk'd" bad-ass persona has never hidden an essential kindness. The one plot element that works is that he's the one of the pair who's got the emotional smarts; it is harder to believe Cameron's character is as cut off from feeling as she's supposed to be. But not too hard, because there's a hardness about her.
Yes, it is disappointing that most of the Vegas night is done in a rapid-fire montage that's more like an acid trip than an evening of heavy drinking; that nothing sexier happens; that the wedding is reduced to a final (not very successful) outtake sequence. The ending is slushy sentimental; but it is sweet. The critics' revulsion remains incomprehensible to me because 'What Happens in Vegas' leaves a good taste, if not a very strong one. I was a little bothered by the young Asian woman (a misused Michelle Krusiec) being made so stereotypically the unappealing suffering striver: that's more mean than funny. Queen Latifah is mellow as always but wasted as the marriage counselor. Director Tom Vaughan deserves little credit, but it is writer Dana Fox who is most to blame for the mediocrity of the result. Kutcher and Diaz and the others do a very good job. When you think about it, how much is the "originality" of other recent Hollywood comedies really worth? Where's the trail-blazing in '40 Year Old Virgin,' 'Super Bad,' or even the wishful-thinking 'Juno'? But no mistake about it, this movie is for fans of good-looking people in glossy movies, not smart comedy or edge. Compare this to Ashton in 'Just Married' and you'll see this role is better. For sheer mindless fun he peaked in 'Dude, Where's My Car?' Of course Cameron has a far stronger comedy--and general movie--résumé, so again Ashton's playing opposite her is not a step back but a step forward. But an attempt to analyze the plot seems futile. Its failings are too obvious to bother listing.
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