What Happens in Vegas. From the title alone, you probably expect the typical romantic comedy loaded with clichés. But you’d be pleasantly surprised. Although it’s largely predictable, and by no means terrific, the film throws in a few twists. Vegas serves its purpose as a light-hearted, entertaining film with a few outlandish moments and some sappy lines.
Undecided about whether or not you should see this film? Here’s where Vegas succeeds and stumbles in its use of the romcom formula.
Cameron Diaz plays Joy McNally, who is lovable and fun deep down, but has problems cutting loose, so her boyfriend cuts her loose. Ashton Kutcher’s character, Jack Fuller, couldn’t be more different: laid-back and fun but unable to handle pressure, which leads to the loss of his job. The two, accompanied by their respective comic-relief best friends, have the same plan to escape their troubles: go to Las Vegas and get shitfaced.
Romantic comedies rely on polar-opposite love interests to set up the “How can they possibly get along?” scenario. Vegas also relies on the characters’ contrast: Scenes from Joy’s perspective are always followed by scenes from Jack’s, and the pattern repeats until the plot needs to move along.
Diaz and Kutcher pull off their characters well, transitioning easily from pure slapstick to deep moments of bonding. They are likable without becoming stale, and although their bickering goes overboard (a drawn-out chase scene involving baguette fights comes to mind), they never get boring.
The respective pairs arrive in Vegas expecting fun times. Joy and her friend Tipper (Lake Bell), while mostly undressed, discover Jack’s friend Hater (Rob Corddry) is also in their suite. Although the girls plan to go off on their own, Jack’s playful criticism of Joy’s plan-making hits a sore spot and the group begins a wild night that ends (of course) in Jack and Joy’s marriage.
The biggest cliché here is the repetition of lines. In one of those “words coming back to you” moments, Jack criticizes Joy for making plans to make plans, the exact critique her ex-boyfriend made at the beginning of the film, convincing her to let loose and prove everyone wrong.
There are some funny one-liners, and the setup is quick, entertaining and painless. Plus, Kutcher and Diaz are funny drunks.
The morning after, Jack and Joy agree on an annulment. After Jack wins a $3-million jackpot using Joy’s quarter while they are still technically married, they part angrily. In court, the judge is furious at the younger generation’s disregard for the sanctity of marriage, and so freezes the money and sentences the couple to six months of “hard marriage.” He threatens to tie up the money in litigation unless the two try to make their marriage work and see a court-appointed marriage counselor (Queen Latifah). The next six months pass by, and the two unintentionally fall in love with each other.
An odd couple falling in love over time is possibly the greatest cliché of them all. But…
There is some creativity at work here, such as Kutcher coming to counseling with a black eye to try to make Diaz seem like an abusive wife. This part pulls off a classic romantic comedy formula: having the couple fight to make us laugh, and then having them fall in love and to make us say “Awww.”
Don’t look for deep messages or symbolism in this movie. If you take it for what it is — easy laughs and cutesy love — you might enjoy it a little more.