What Happens In Vegas

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New Yorkers Joy (Diaz) and Jack (Kutcher) couldn’t be less suited. However, after a Vegas blitz they end up married, and with $3 million in winnings at stake, stay together to fight it out.


If you’re tuning into this energetic but stultifyingly unoriginal rom-com for the title’s beaming promise of sexy shenanigans in that bright light city set in the Nevada desert, take heed. Vegas barely gets a look in. The movie is primarily cooped up in New York doing a shrill retread of that creaky old gag about an odd-couple who fall for one another after they marry.

The Vegas set-up is lifted from Friends and Pamela Anderson’s life, although without the refined wit of either. A control freak babe (Cameron Diaz), freshly dumped by her vile fiancé, bumps into a dishy slacker (Ashton Kutcher) freshly fired by his disapproving pop. Amid a caffeinated blur of drunk-acting and hotel-sized product placement, they end up joined in marital hatred. The cogwheels of plot contrivance turn us next to a jackpot they both lay claim to, and then to a snotty judge who freezes the winnings; forcing them to play real husband and wife until they learn the value of marriage. Eighteen years ago, we had Green Card with largely the same plot; a movie marked by creative vigour, nuance, recognisable emotions, and gentle humour. In this risible confection, the preened robots just want to split $3m in casino winnings. Have movies become so businesslike that even the plot has to be about making money?

This is script as instruction book, a screw here and there and the prefab planks of wood assemble into a functional but characterless piece of studio furniture - a few smirks and titters and near enough what it looks like on the poster. There, the stars are billed as ‘Cameron & Ashton’, as if their pairing was so sublimely cosy we can dispense with surnames. Why have they waited so long? For good reason: they fit like hand in sock.

Diaz comes off worse. She does a good drunk, but really should have progressed beyond this ladette slapstick. Even then her character refuses to sit still. By scenes, she is neurotic or kooky, scatterbrained or company hotshot. She’s utterly unrecognisable as a human being. Kutcher, at least, displays the doltish charm of Bill and Ted with an especially constipated expression reserved for moments of contemplation.

Darker shades are swerved, subtlety snubbed, and invention avoided, as director Tom Vaughn, who got going with Starter For Ten, reveals no sign whatsoever of developing into an interesting director. So predictable are his moves, you’ll think you’ve developed a cinematic sixth sense: ‘I see punchlines’.

Bland enough to make millions as culture edges closer to oblivion.