Romantic comedies are such a well worn endeavor that there’s nothing much left to the imagination to explore, unless there’s plenty of wit, bite and hot chemistry to keep that engine going. And What Happens In Vegas has plenty of all that in abundance, and more. Designated lovebirds Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher are so into each other in this can’t live with or without each other matchup, that it’s hard to believe they really don’t mean it.
In this first comes marriage then comes love neo-screwball emotional entanglement, Joy (Cameron Diaz) and Jack (Ashton Kutcher) are a destined for disaster duo through a series of outrageous coincidences. Joy is a hotshot Wall Street commodities trader and compulsive perfectionist who is dumped by her cold feet fiance. And in front of a roomful of guests yet, who are hiding out at a surprise bash that she’s assembled for his birthday, while he explains out loud his departure from their relationship, even if ‘the sex is great, and all the things you’ve been trying with my butt.’
At the same time across town, aspiring underachiever and serial ladies man Jack has just been fired for his slacker attitude by Dad (Treat Williams), at the family carpentry business. So after simultaneously and unknowingly drowning their sorrows at the same bar, Jack and Joy head their separate ways to stress-relieving vacations in Vegas with their respective loudmouth best friends, and end up occupying the same hotel suite through a computer error.
Stuck in loathing at first sight, Jack and Joy reluctantly do the casinos together, drink far too much, and she ends up married and in bed by the end of the night, with a vending machine wedding ring and a fresh surprise tattoo. Which leads to something they can finally agree on – a plan for instant divorce. That is, until Joy lends Jack a quarter and he hits a multi-million dollar slot machine jackpot. When they meet up in court back in New York to fight over the money, Dennis Miller as goofy Judge Whopper sentences them to six months of ‘hard marriage’ instead, after delivering a hilarious courthouse sermon making it extremely clear how much he hates them and their entire decadent generation.
What follows is a lunatic trial and mostly error attempt at living together, filled with outrageous moments touching on gender battles over not remembering to keep the toilet seat down, germy guy underwear tucked into the smelly bedsheets, emergency peeing on the dishes in the kitchen sink when she hogs the john, and Jack’s habitual crotch-scratching tendency to dive into her popcorn and leave ‘balls-sack flavored’ coating all over the snack. And holding court to sort out these various messes with more subtle but no less tangy humor, is Queen Latifah’s Dr. Twitchell as their poker-faced court appointed marriage counselor.
As far fetched as the idea of disgust and displeasure as the ultimate aphrodisiac may seem, director Tom Vaughan (Starter For 10) and feminist-minded screenwriter Dana Fox (The Wedding Date) keep the kinky unarranged marriage shocks and surprises coming. And with more than a little help from the sparks of screen spontaneity set off between Diaz and Kutcher. A Sex And The Sin City that hits the jackpot.
20th Century Fox Pictures
3 1/2 stars