Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

What Happens in Vegas

Review by David Tredler

There are films you just need to read the pitch on the paper, and see the trailer, to think it is going to be pointless, cliché and barely funny. Amazingly, What Happens in Vegas is not one of those films. Not because this films revolutionizes the art of comedy, or even reveals itself to be more profound than it looked in the first place. No, it does not, but against all odds, it turns out to be utterly funny anyway.

It all begins in New York City. Joy (Cameron Diaz) and Jack (Ashton Kutcher) don’t know each other. She has just been dumped by her boyfriend, while he just got fired from work. They both decide, along with their respective best friends, to go forget their respective woes in Las Vegas. And that is how, after a particularly wild night of alcohol consumption, Joy and Jack wake up in the same bed... with few memories but a wedding ring on each other’s finger. Getting their marriage annulled should not have been an issue, had Jack not won the jackpot at the casino in the morning... with one of Joy’s coins, prompting the question of how to split the profits. A judge decides they should stay married, and under the same roof, for the next six months, while simultaneously undergoing marriage counselling. The problem is, Jack and Joy hate each other, and want the money for themselves.

What a complicated starting point. And pretty unbelievable too. But when it comes to light romantic comedies, the sense of realism is rarely a factor in determining how judge the film’s quality. So the fact What Happens in Vegas rarely went anywhere near a plausible situation is not a problem. Because what is most important, and unexpected in this case, happens: you laugh, hard. Again and again.

The film by Tom Vaughan (who directed the little-seen Starter for 10) is by no means a great comedy. It will not be remembered as a classic, nor as an intelligent, delirious or innovative comedy.   But as a plain, enjoy-on-the-moment comedy, What Happens in Vegas is as good as you could hope for. Gags are running fast, the alchemy between Kutcher, very at ease in the exercise, and Diaz, works fine, and before you realize it, you find yourself enjoying the film much more than you thought possible.

Of course it is not going anywhere unpredictable, but the humor is sometimes low enough to compensate for that (yes, always compensate the predictability of your intrigue by inserting very low humor). Plus if you are a fan of The Daily Show’s Rob Corddry, there is plenty to laugh at thanks to him in particular, stealing most of his scenes as he has done in the past year months (The Heartbreak Kid, Semi Pro or Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay).  Just wait until you see how the lawyer he portrays celebrates when he wins a case... and you will guess how rarely than happens! A good surprise of the summer.

3 / 5 stars

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