What Happens in Vegas falls into that romantic comedy void where three things are guaranteed to happen:
1. The incompatible couple will be forced into a number of contrived situations that exist only in the world of romantic comedies.
2. Through a varied series of events, they’ll learn they are meant for each other.
3. The guy will screw up, forcing him to make an implausible journey to that one special place the girl happens to be, forgetting all that happened to end on that special kiss.
That becomes What Happens in Vegas in a nutshell, a comedy so devoid of originality, it’s hard to believe the film is even trying. In essence, it comes down to simplistic roles for the stars, Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz, to carry it. Their charisma can only take it so far, as their situation continues to deteriorate, but fall for each other anyway.
For the record, Treat Williams can’t play basketball. That seems completely out of place in this review, but in one of the opening scenes, Williams is playing basketball with Kutcher, his in-film son. Instead of using a real basketball, an obviously fake CG ball is used to go through the hoop. Why? Have we come to the point where even basketballs need to be a special effect?
Maybe that was out of line, although it does sort of represent the alternate reality this movie takes place in. Diaz and Kutcher have a fling in Vegas, get drunk, get married, and are impossibly ordered by a judge to stay together for six months or lose the $3 million they won together at a slot machine.
Whether it’s breaking the fourth wall or exists because the director felt the scene wouldn’t work without it, Vegas contains a scene where Kutcher removes the toilet seat in the middle of the night. Diaz, in a daze from sleeping, goes to the bathroom and falls in. The camera pans to Kutcher who then pulls the seat out from under his blanket on the couch to show everyone what he did. If you need to explain the joke, it’s not funny.
The two actors continue to devise ways to torture each other so the marriage is ruled invalid and they have the money to themselves. This happens as they are being overshadowed by Lake Bell and Rob Corddry, spilling banter that delivers the few laughs this movie can provide. It’s probably not a good thing when secondary characters are overshadowing the stars.
As everyone in the audience knows from the start, these two radically incompatible people end up falling in love, although to its credit, Vegas does not end on a wedding. Diaz is capable of stronger material (There’s Something About Mary) in this genre, so why she ended up in something this weak is a mystery. Not even her charm can carry something this flat and uninspired. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Movie]
What Happens in Vegas is one of those films where the director liked playing with the color timing tools, and in the process, made everyone look sickly. The oversaturated colors are undoubtedly bright, but when everyone looks like they have received an awful bronze “tan in a can,” it’s time to stop playing with the film.
Fine detail is also at a premium, washed out by the blooming contrast and garish color. At the least, the transfer is sharp with a decent sense of depth thanks to the blacks. Despite their lower resolution, the deleted scenes actually offer a glimpse of what this could have looked like without all of the tinkering. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]
A few moments of surround work, including saws in the wood shop at the opening and soundtrack bleed, are all that’s worth mentioning for this pedestrian audio design. The low end gets some work from the music, but parties and crowded clubs are sadly sitting in the front channels, despite chance for rear speaker usage. Dialogue is clean, mixed well, and fidelity is fine. Adequate and nothing more. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Audio]
If you watch the film and wonder how this is a PG-13, there’s a good reason for that. Despite the case saying it’s PG-13, this is actually the unrated cut, complete with coarser language. The case also states two hours of extras, although this is including a commentary from director Tom Vaughn and editor Matt Friedman. Cut 90 minutes of that time out.
What’s left is mostly filler. An Inside Look as Marley & Me is obviously a promo for that movie. Sitting Down with Cameron and Ashton is a feature in which the actors interview each other, and obviously promo the film. DVD Extras with Zack Galifianakis is a funny interview between the actor and Vaughn. An in-character promo for Rob Corddry isn’t that funny.
Six deleted/extended scenes run eight minutes, followed by a not-very-PG-13 five-minute gag reel. An extra series of alternate takes on a break-up scene can only be accessed from the main menu, and has an explanation from the director. A pop-up drinking game can be played along with the film. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]