It’s the beat of this blog to be positive, but every so often, we have to throw some grit in the oyster and punish the guilty with a flat-out one-star dismissal. And so we come to Tom Vaughan’s What Happens in Vegas, a dismal, desperate rom-com to be filed alongside The Holiday in the toxic failure pile. Although this Ashton Kutcher/Cameron Diaz enterprise was a sizable hit, it’s also the kind of film that rang the death knell for the genre; it’s a horrible, misogynist-pleasing soggy trifle, all the more surprising for having been written by a woman.
Trader Joy (Diaz) has it all, a swanky job, and a loving fiancé (Jason Sudeikis) who promptly dumps her at a surprise party. Joy and her gal pal (poor Lake Bell) take off for some R and R in Las Vegas, only to run across the smarmy Jack (Kutcher) and his legal buddy Hater (Rob Corddry). A drunken night leads Joy and Jack to a quickie marriage, but before they can get a quick annulment, Jack wins several million on a fruit machine with Joy’s quarter, and the legal dispute that arises means that they have to live together in NYC for six months to get the settlement shared between them.
That’s contrivance piled on top of contrivance, and with a lump of plot carried forwards from Larry David’s famously unpopular movie Sour Grapes. The production is fine, and the cast is impressive; Treat Williams, Zach Galifianakis, Dennis Farina all feature, and Queen Latifah has a plum role as a shrink. But nothing works at all here, with shrill, dislikeable performances, obnoxious gags, and various talents playing to their weaknesses rather than strengths.
In short, what happened in Vegas should stay in Vegas; even the Hangover movies made a better fist of showing the remorse of a big night out on the town. Largely taking place anywhere but Vegas, this is a story of hedonism run wild, but the audience are left feeling like a third wheel. Diaz tries her darndest to get some spirit into this, but up against the repellent Kutcher, very much the Dane Cook of his day, there’s no salvaging this pitiful, dreadful film. Keep this muck in Vegas and keep it out of my way.