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Typical Romantic Comedy: What Happens in Vegas

Published May 9, 2008 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of 20th Century Fox
What Happens in Vegas Poster What Happens in Vegas
What Happens in Vegas is another typical romantic comedy where you know exactly what's going to happen, but at least it does its premise. It's okay to be totally typical if you do what you're promising to do. There are not distracting animal antics. It's really about passive aggressive manipulation.

What Happens in Vegas Review

The setup is your basic adorable commitment whore and your adorable commitmentphobe. She's a calculated investment trader and he's a gambler who can't even hold a job at his dad's furniture plant. They also have friends who announce their defining traits in case you weren't clear. The bad breakup and the screaming encounter are obvious but it plays.

They do keep saying "Vegas" a lot, including the Swingers reference, so they're really trying. At least they party harder than the 21 kids. There is an impressive pratfall off the bar. It may be onto an off camera mat, but it's still impressive.

This may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but at least you believe that these characters are in this situation. Ashton Kutcher has charming game, calling out the behavior of Cameron Diaz's character. The hookup is natural. It's all a matter of timing, just like how I ended up dating a stripper.

From here, the film acknowledges itself. It is a ridiculous situation with a mild political statement about the abuse of marriage, but really it's about the contrived money winnings and a gimmicky court order. They have to try to make their marriage work for six months before the judge will even grant them a divorce, let alone rule on the possession of the winnings.

The first situational jokes are really clever. They try to kill each other with kindness. Now that's witty. That hardly lasts though. There's one more callback in a therapists' office, but it turns vicious right away.

At least while it's the typical battle, it's truly manipulative passive-aggressive behavior. No one's doing anything to each other. They're withholding things and creating uncomfortable situations. That's far more inventive than <B>How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days</b>. It's not dark, but it's not soft either.

The turn near the end wasn't what I expected it to be either. I thought it would be something with a note getting discovered at an inopportune moment, but it's not. It's still something they contrived earlier on, but it's not the one I expected.

What Happens in Vegas is a reliable movie. It offers a certain type of humor and love story and it gets it done. It's no About a Boy or The Notebook but if you want to see people fight and then fall in love, it's way better than Made of Honor.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of 20th Century Fox

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