What Happens in Vegas...

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 May, 2008, 12:00am

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Ashton Kutcher, Lake Bell, Rick Corddry

Director: Tom Vaughan

Category: IIA

For director Tom Vaughan, the title might as well replace Vegas with Hollywood. Given that the film rarely rises above most of the hackneyed romantic comedies about nuptials gone awry, he could have wished the idea had stayed on 20th Century Fox's drawing board as much as the principal characters' accidental marriage should never have lasted beyond the perimeters of Sin City.

After all, Vaughan's last cinematic outing, in 2006, was Starters for Ten, a romantic comedy

set in 1980s Britain about participants in a television quiz show. That film is warm and witty

if a little sentimental and nostalgic.

What Happens in Vegas has none of the charm, nuanced emotions and well-considered backdrop of Starters for Ten - instead, the film is a rehash of the cliches of gender warfare set in the alcohol-induced marriage of a male slacker and a female control freak.

The story about an accidental marriage in Las Vegas offers nothing extraordinary here - the paparazzi has offered us more lurid tales about such celebrity pairings than that of Joy (Cameron Diaz), an aggressive futures broker, and Jack (Ashton Kutcher), who's just been fired by his

father from his job at the furniture-making family business. The premise that they are forced to live together for six months in order to keep their US$3-million jackpot winnings (Joy provided the coin, Jack pulled the lever) strains logic from the very start.

That the film draws mostly from the much-visited bank of gender-difference jokes, what with the obsessive Joy having to put up with Jack's crass schoolboy antics, offers only the odd moment of hilarity. There's a distinct lack of frisson between Diaz, who's becoming a tiring presence now playing the perennial highly strung career woman, and Kutcher, seemingly undecided whether to play Jack as an uber-lad or a confused manchild.

And if there are laughs, they are certainly not from the principals (together above), but courtesy of the best-friend supporting characters.

These are Lake Bell's Tipper, Joy's extreme-tempered friend who promises to avenge women's sufferings by hitting men at their nether regions, and Rob Corddry's Hater, the male-chauvinist lawyer who's advising Jack on how to put down his new wife.

The fact this film has to get the laughs with these two stereotypical characters, however, speak volumes about the thin material on offer.

What Happens in Vegas ... opens today