What Happens in Vegas (PG-13) **

Ashton Kutcher plays Jack Fuller and Cameron Diaz plays Joy McNally in a scene from, "What Happens in Vegas." Photo:AP Photo/20th Century

By Connie Ogle, Miami Herald

The latest uptight chick/slacker dude romantic comedy is so formulaic, you could win big if you placed bets on what’s going to happen next.

You don’t need the trailers to tell you that workaholic, just-dumped Joy (Cameron Diaz) and commitmentphobe, recently unemployed Jack (Ashton Kutcher) will meet, get drunk, get hitched and get rich one night in Vegas. Or that they will end up in court over the $3 million he wins at a slot machine (with her quarter). Or that the long-suffering and cranky judge (Dennis Miller), irate over their cavalier attitude toward wedlock, will order them to live together for six months or neither will get any money. Judges are so crazy!

So Joy and Jack move into his disgusting apartment, complete with a neon beer sign and filthy toilet, and try earnestly to drive each other crazy in hopes of forcing a surrender and claiming all the money.

What Happens in Vegas is not as dreadful as screenwriter Dana Fox’s last movie (the horrific The Wedding Date, so dangerously bad that it could legitimately destroy the sanctity of marriage as we know it). Vegas has a few amusing gags, and it’s not as painful to watch as that other recent and whimsically misogynistic ode to ill-conceived weddings (Made of Honor). It’s neither as crude nor as over-the-top as the recent Judd Apatow-produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall, nor is it as imaginative or raucously funny. Diaz doesn’t have much to do but impressively bust open champagne bottles with a knife and wear tight clothes, and Kutcher’s model looks block the scruffy believability Apatow’s loser boys have. But he’s good at playing a goof-off and actually pulls off the few romantic scenes better than you might expect.

Still, the overwhelming sensation of deja vu is exhausting and disorienting. You really have seen it all before: ridiculous psychological battles (he pees in the sink; she sends over a bevy of hot women to lure him into cheating); their squabbling best friends (Rob Corddry, Lake Bell) taking sides; the inevitable moments when both Joy and Jack realize they’re falling in love. Maybe I shouldn’t have given away that last development, but hey — odds are you figured it out long before the opening credits were over, anyway.

Cast: Cameron Diaz, Ashton Kutcher, Rob Corddry, Lake Bell

Director: Tom Vaughan

Screenwriter: Dana Fox

Producers: Michael Aguilar, Dean Georgaris, Shawn Levy

A 20th Century Fox release. Running time: 99 minutes. Some sexual and crude content, language including a drug reference.


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