If you happen to be contemplating spending $8.50 on a ticket to see What Happens in Vegas …, save yourself the money and effort and just watch the trailer, which manages to cram the entire plot of this generic romcom monstrosity into 30 seconds. Compared to 99 minutes of overwrought slapstick, dull sitcom humor and Ashton Kutcher mugging for the camera in between bouts of yelling as a substitute for comedy, that’s what I call a bargain.
Kutcher and his vast collection of V-neck T-shirts displays his cavernous range as an actor by playing a unmotivated slacker named Jack. Having just been fired from the family business, Jack decides to take a trip to Las Vegas, where he meets the uptight Joy (Cameron Diaz), who has just been dumped by her fiancé (Jason Sudeikis, Semi-Pro), a man so plain and dull that only the magic of script writing could have this guy marry Cameron Diaz, let alone dump her.
After a night of drunken debauchery, Jack and Joy wake up to find out they were married the night before, but before they can get an annulment, Jack wins a $3 million jackpot with Joy’s quarter. Instead of just agreeing to split the cash, the two head to court, where Dennis Miller does excerpts from his stand-up routine and then sentences them to six months of marriage before the money can be divided up.
The movie is a laundry list of romantic-comedy conventions, from Jack’s sleazy best friend (Rob Corddry, Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantánamo Bay) to Joy’s smarmy gal pal (Lake Bell, Over Her Dead Body). And if you’ve seen the trailer already, you know that the couple will gradually fall for each other only to be foiled by superficial complications that are resolved with Kutcher’s very own “You had me at hello” speech. It’s amazing an actual human being got paid to hack this thing together.
All of this leads to the kind of marriage humor involving the differences between men and women that have been the staples of sitcoms and bad stand-up comedy for decades. It’s 2008. Do we really need more jokes about how men leave the toilet seat up? Otherwise, the movie is a procession of Kutcher beefcaking it up mixed in with the requisite broad slapstick. And while the idea of Kutcher being pelted by various citrus is enticing from a simply cathartic point of view, as humor it’s pointless.
Of course, there are worse things than What Happens in Vegas …. Unfortunately—such as in the case of the dreadful synth-pop cover of Huey Lewis’s “I Want a New Drug” that’s featured in the film for about 15 seconds—the things that are worse than this movie are actually in the movie. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a Roach Motel: terrible, unoriginal ideas check in, but they don’t check out. Rated PG-13 for some sexual and crude content and language, including a drug reference.