What Happens in Vegas

February 5th, 2009 DVD Reviews, Film, Xpress

After watching this film, play it back in your head again but starring much blander actors, sloppy rom-com stalwarts like Edward Burns, Jennifer Garner or Kate Hudson.

Then you’ll see the film as it was on the page long before any casting was done — an endless procession of tired battle-of-the-sexes stereotypes, genre in-jokes and a cookie cutter plot excreted straight from the bowels of the Hollywood romantic comedy formula playbook.

But for all the rolled eyes, mild guffaws and stifled yawns you’ll suffer through, two things give the film something the producers would have been desperately hoping for; Kutcher and Diaz, both capable of much better than this and consequently lifting this dross way above its station.

Call him a manboy party animal, but Kutcher has presence and he has comic timing. And Diaz has shone in too many films from The Last Supper to Being John Malkovich for this not to be mincemeat for an actress not just of her cheeky beauty but her talent.

The set-up is pure Comic Scriptwriting Conflict 101. Two pairs of friends find themselves in Vegas to drown various sorrows — employment for him and romantic for her. They all end up drunk and the next morning the pair are horrified to find they’ve married each other in some kitschy Vegas casino ceremony.

Trying not to be too embarrassed as they work it out the next morning, they promptly win a few million dollars on a random slot machine. He pulled the handle, but she gave him the coin. So who gets the money? They go to court to battle it out where the judge lectures them on today’s impulsive youth and delivers the judgement (and the film’s premise) — they have to stay married for six months and try to get along to keep the money.

You can guess the rest as they fight and argue, she tries to teach him how the toilet seat works and he pours the popcorn they’re eating down his pants. You can also guess that they’ll suddenly look at each other in a different way about three quarters of the way through, and you’ll guess everything else thereafter.

But it’s worth it to see two accomplished actors having fun with the script, not for the script itself.

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