WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS (Tom Vaughan). 99 minutes. Opens Friday (May 9). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
For the first hour, What Happens In Vegas looks like cruel farce. Two strangers (Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher) get drunkenly married in Las Vegas, then he wins $3 million on the slots with her quarter. She wants a share of the money, but the divorce judge insists they stay together for six months. They set out to destroy each other with help from their respective best friends (Rob Corddry and Lake Bell).
So our heroes and their buddies are firmly established as greedy schemers waging moderately funny low comedy war, and we’re primed for them to escalate their battle. It doesn’t happen. About an hour in, the movie turns into a romantic comedy, and the laughs stop dead and don’t reappear until the last few minutes.
The shift betrays our expectations, kills the momentum and, worst of all, demands that we care about people we already know to be cartoon monsters.
The move to romance also takes the best friends out of the action – a shame because they provide most of the laughs. Corddry and Bell scheme with manic glee and put a lot of energy into their mutual hatred. Diaz unleashes her gift for both physical and verbal comedy, but she can’t make any headway against Kutcher, who emotes with his charm on autopilot and his brain on novocaine.