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Monday, May 12, 2008

What Happens in Vegas

'What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas’ is more than an effective advertising slogan. It is usually the best idea anyone could have when visiting that sandpit of sin in the middle of the Nevada desert. It certainly was for me. I left my starter husband there with his mommy more than 30 years ago and he still is there, now 54, and still living in her garage without a job or even the memories of other relationships to keep his hand company at night. He says I “ruined” him for anyone else. I don’t know whether to be flattered or mortified. I’d like to think it is because after me no one else could measure up. More likely though, after me, he was afraid to venture into the bedroom in less than complete darkness for fear that whoever he was with would burst into fits of raucous laughter. I know it wasn’t a kind thing, My Darlings, but every time I saw him naked I thought about uncooked chicken. Scrawny uncooked chicken. The boy was so white he looked like an interstate map of the Eastern seaboard and his back was pimply enough that I often lay awake at night and stared at it like one of those 3-D paintings, looking for the secret picture within the array of red and white dots. Eventually I found it and I realized his back acne was secretly spelling the words “Get Out” and so I did. Not because he had acne, mind you, that would be shallow. I left him because he was an…, okay, I’ll do like the slogan suggests and let that stay in Vegas (at least for now).

Still, every time I see a movie or television show that features Las Vegas I am reminded of the dubious mistake I made back in college and I want to grab naïve young women I see, complete strangers on the street, and warn them not to throw away their early 20s on some complete nozzle just because they’re impressed by some guy’s… well, nozzle. Do they listen? Of course not. It’s just a fact of life that we all have to make our own mistakes and live with them. Just ask Joy McNally and Jack Fuller of the movie What happens in Vegas.

Joy McNally (Cameron Diaz; The Holiday) is a good example of someone living life almost on he
r terms. She has a great job working in the NY stock exchange, is hard-working, well-respected, fiercely dedicated to achieving a promotion and becoming even more successful in her career. She is also happy with the life she has carved out at home with her boyfriend Mason (Jason Sudeikis; tv’s “Saturday Night Live"), and is looking forward to their eventual wedding, at least she was until he takes the wind out of her surprise birthday party for him by announcing to her (and a few dozen hidden guests) that he is dumping her instead of proposing to her. Yeah, that can be embarrassing. So what better excuse than to take her best pal, Tipper (Lake Bell; Over Her Dead Body), and head to Vegas to drown her sorrows in booze and debauchery?

Meanwhile, across the bridge in Brooklyn, Jack Fuller (Ashton Kutcher; The Guardian) is having problems of his own. He’s been allegedly working for his father (Treat Williams; The Hideout) for years in the furniture building business, but even Jack, Sr. has his limits. Since Jack, Jr. never seems to be able to commit to anything, not even finishing a simple job at the factory, his Dad gives him the boot for good, meaning he’s is broke and with no prospects. So what does Jack do but go off with his best pal and wingman, Hater (Rob Corddry; Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay) to ~ you guessed it ~ Vegas.

When a computer glitch puts both gals and guys in the same suite it is only a heartbeat or so before the women are attacking the guys, believing they are rapists, then not, then yes, then not, until eventually they end up gin-soaked, and, by morning, Jack and Joy are married.

You see why Vegas can be bad for you? They’re nothing worse than waking up with a hangover
and a new spouse you don’t remember marrying. Those awkward ‘morning-after’ moments are so embarrassing. That’s why I always encourage friends jumping into a one night stand to go to the guy’s place. It offers four important advantages: 1) you can always sneak out after he goes to sleep so you don’t have to deal with the weird “who-are-you”s in the a.m., 2) there’s no ‘morning breath’ embarrassment on either party’s end, 3) you don’t have to fret about him seeing you with no make-up and hair askew, and 4) you won’t show up at work the next day wearing the same outfit you left in the previous day, thus giving all the office blabbermouths something to gossip about. Just consider this a little public service digression. Sorry.

Anyone who’s seen the previews knows there’s a BIG complication that stops this couple who’ve put in less time together than my antihistamine works from getting an annulment, and that is a $3 million dollar payday from a slot machine, which both claims to own. Sentenced by the always smarmy Dennis Miller (tv’s "Amne$ia"), as Judge Whopper, to six months of “hard marriage”, the two opposites are forced to live together and work on their relationship, including weekly sessions with a therapist, the sadly underused Queen Latifah (Mad Money).

Obviously the predictable resolution to this story is written in the audience’s mind before the
opening credits, so it is not so much the plot that moves the story along as it is the charisma of the leading players. Diaz is as charming and beautiful as ever, and I have been left practically speechless (yeah, practically, but not entirely) by numerous comments from critics that she is doing well for “an aging actress” or for being “no spring chicken.” Dear God! The woman is 35 years old. They act as if she is circling the drain in a nursing home somewhere in Florida. Meanwhile, they criticize Kutcher for continuing to act out his personal life by appearing in a movie where his love interest is “an older woman.” Yeah, he is 30 now. It’s not like he is 18 and there is a 40 year gap in their ages. I didn’t even notice any physical age differences between the two, only in how their characters were presented as having developed differently, both socially and professionally, which is pertinent to the plot. After all, isn’t it obvious that the corporate ladder-climber needs to slow down and relax, just as the no-confidence underachiever needs to learn to believe in himself? Somewhere, naturally, they are destined to teach one another a thing or two.

The real laughs throughout come from Corddry and Bell, who as the best friends of the leads despise one another while being madly, and disgustedly, in lust. Their constant bickering and sniping at each other are the best part of the movie, which isn’t to say that What Stays in Vegas is not without other chuckles, but Diaz and Kutcher are more about the romance and the larger sequence gags that involve plot twists.

Don’t expect
What Stays in Vegas to sweep the Oscars next Spring, but it is a fun diversion from the over-zealous high tech special effects of what else is out there right now. There’s not a Speed Racer or an Iron Man crashing across the screen in a single frame, and that can be refreshing all by itself for a lot of moviegoers.

1 comment:

patrick said...

most of the romantic comedies i've seen with Ashton Kutcher have been pretty good, A Lot Like Love is another example