Perhaps it's because last week's Made of Honor left me with sub-zero expectations for this genre but whatever the reason, I really liked What Happens in Vegas. Sure, it's cheesy, there's a ton of overacting and absurd coincidences, but there's also a strange charm to this movie. And while I never thought there might be real chemistry between Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz, two actors who I think have become like robots trying way too hard to impersonate human beings with their exaggerated goggle-eyes and faux indignation, there is, actually, something there between them.
These two leads are also seriously aided by an engaging, well-paced (if a little silly) plot that rarely drags, and supporting actors like Lake Bell (whose droll humor is great in small doses here, as opposed to the leading lady roles like the one she had in Over Her Dead Body) and The Daily Show's solid comedian Rob Corddry, both of whom help anchor the ridiculous moments with dashes of sarcasm and superb comic timing. It's one of those times when I just want to give the casting director a kiss for taking this project from so-so to a pretty good time. For more of my take on What Happens in Vegas, read more.
Jack Fuller (Kutcher) and Joy McNally (Diaz) both live in New York City, but they're worlds apart. Joy is a high-strung trader on Wall Street while Jack is a lazy schlub who "works" for his dad's company. When Joy is dumped by her fiance and Jack gets fired by his dad for the last time, the two set off for Las Vegas to unwind with their respective best friends (Bell and Corddry). In a classic opposites-attract situation, they spend a wild night together, ending in drunken nuptials. Hungover the next day, they sheepishly decide to annul the marriage, but when Jack uses Joy's quarter in a slot machine and wins three million dollars, they enter into a legal battle over who should get the money.
Back in New York, the two are faced with a bitter judge who decides to grant the divorce only after they've lived together for six months and tried to make the marriage work. If they prove that they've tried, after the six months they will be able to get divorced and each will get half of the Vegas winnings. If either one slips up, however, the other one will receive the full amount of money. Of course, the unlikely lovebirds fight tooth and nail to one-up each other in their shared apartment and then attempt to sabotage each other's chances for receiving the entire amount, all the while growing fond of each other.
Though the initial big action takes place in Las Vegas, the majority of the story is set in New York, and the pacing of the film benefits greatly from these two giant, fast-paced cities where there's never really any time to get bogged down in lame attempts at sentimentality. In some romcoms, it's these long, drawn-out cheesy moments that choke the life out of something that might have just been lighthearted and sweet. It's hard to feel satisfied after those movies because it's like they strained to achieve something and didn't quite make it. After this movie, though, I felt satisfied and better yet — I felt uplifted.
To see the trailer and more videos from What Happens in Vegas check out movies.ivillage.com.
Photos courtesy of 20th Century Fox