Hollywood is on a mission to prove that number-crunching career women lead unfulfilling lives, at least until they quit their jobs and settle down with The One. This time around, it’s Cameron Diaz who plays the emotionally stunted, successful businesswoman, with Ashton Kutcher as her slacker love interest in Tom Vaughan’s “What Happens in Vegas.” Kutcher and Diaz are initially somewhat likeable as one-note, cliché characters, but the fun stops when we’re supposed to start taking these semi-people seriously.
Diaz’s Joy McNally is teased on two separate occasions for “making plans to make plans,” so that even the slowest members in the audience will understand that she’s, like, so uptight. Joy’s inability to just chill and relax even leads her to get dumped by her fiancée. Meanwhile, Jack is too relaxed, so much so that he loses his low-paying factory job after getting fired by his own father. Wouldn’t it be absolutely zany if these total opposites ever hung out? But in trite Hollywood fashion, they meet, fight furiously and eventually fall in love. It’s the meeting and fighting portions of the film that actually generate a few laughs.
In a striking parallel to real-life, “What Happens in Vegas” is most entertaining when the romantic leads are partying in Vegas. Joy travels to the strip to recover from her heartbreak, and luckily for the audience, she brings along the hilariously grumpy Tipper (Lake Bell). Jack makes the trip with Hater, played by “Daily Show” comedian Rob Corddry. The four characters meet violently and nakedly in a hotel room mix-up, but Jack still manages to sweet talk the girls into drinking that night.
The following morning, Joy awakens to one of the most terrifying sights known to man, or rather, to hung-over women: a tacky dice ring on her wedding finger. Tipper’s excuse for not intervening in her friend’s blacked-out marriage to Jack is that she “totally threw up in [her] own purse,” establishing screenwriter Dana Fox’s talent in penning the dialogue of young people who drink a lot. The actors all actually look a little too old to still be blacking out and puking in purses, but this apparent miscasting just make the lines sound more ridiculous and funny.
Joy and Jack thus move on to make annulment plans. That is, until Jack wins three million dollars from a slot machine, forcing the unhappy couple to court. Judge Whopper (Dennis Miller) ultimately decides that neither Jack nor Joy will see the money until completing six months of “hard marriage.”
Their marriage hardships mostly stem from body parts and bodily functions; Jack tortures Joy by peeing in the dishes, pouring popcorn on his balls and stealing the toilet seat so that she falls in. Joy gets her revenge by throwing apples at Jack’s head. And then, they inexplicably become mature, and we’re expected to care about their emotions and feelings.
If nothing else, “Vegas” is an affirmation that stupid drunk people are funny, but not when they try to reclaim their intelligence and dignity.