One day every year I try to be a good son, which is how I found myself sitting in What Happens in Vegas on Mother’s Day. While I never expected to see the film, I wasn’t surprised to see a herd of couples in the theater grazing on milk duds and licorice (this was a “date movie” if I ever saw one). However, for a film banking on the sex appeal of two young hotties (Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz, who are forced to endure a sham marriage to split 3 mil in Vegas winnings), the audience was unusually… well seasoned. Even during the previews I could still make out the tap tap of white nursing shoes and the rustling of hairy knuckles reaching for popcorn.
Here then are a few reasons you too might enjoy What Happens in Vegas.
Ashton Kutcher – "That 70s Show" ended with a whimper a couple of years ago, but during its heyday the sitcom mined plenty of laughs from its I-wish-I-were-that-clever teenage snarkfest and, more often than not, Kutcher’s gray matter-challenged Michael Kelso was on the receiving end of the snarking (burned!). In Vegas, Ashton takes a Kelso-like character to the big screen, albeit an older and (slightly) more intelligent version – a Kelso 2.0 if you will. Kutcher makes the transition work by restraining his penchant for overacting and lets the steady stream of amusing (if not hilarious) scenes do the heavy lifting.
Sidekicks done right – Rob Corddry was atrocious in Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, forced to push a one-laugh gag (if that) as an idiotic government agent to nearly half an hour of screen time (or maybe it just felt that way). This time Corddry plays Ashton Kutcher’s lawyer friend who bears a gratifying resemblance to his obtuse and playfully combative Daily Show correspondent persona. Less is more for comedic sidekicks and Corddry stays scarce enough to keep his bald-headed brand of humor golden. Also, wait past the credits for Lake Bell’s best contribution to the film. You’ll know what I’m talking about.
Surprisingly Touching Moments – The script putters itself into the cringe-worthy practice of describing relationships in gambling terms (“I’m ready to bet on you”) but I give props to screenwriter Dana Fox for including believable “aha” moments where the main stars begin that gushy slide into mutual attraction. I don’t want to spoil any major developments (not that you won’t see everything coming) but the courtship is refreshingly chaste and gives more credibility to the budding romance than the average rom-com.
Whatever Happens in Vegas is an excellent “date movie” and also, apparently, an awesome break from shopping for plastic sofa covers. But even if you don’t fit into those categories you now have three reasons to check it out. And now for my obligatory shout-out for the Large Association of Movie Blogs, where movie-goers both young and decrepit are always welcome.