‘What Happens in Vegas’ (2008) Review

Jack is fired by his father. Joy is dumped by her fiance. Separately, their friends convince them to bounce back with a trip to Vegas. After meeting during a room mix-up at the hotel, Jack and Joy enjoy a drunken wild night together only to wake up married. After an argument, Jack uses Joy’s quarter to play the slots and wins the jackpot of $3 million dollars. Joy insists the money is hers, as it was her quarter. When Jack protests, she reminds him that they’re married. A judge back in New York orders the money frozen until the couple lives together for at least six months to try and make the impulsive marriage work. What follows is a game of wits as Jack and Joy try to get the other to quit or mess up so they alone can keep the full jackpot.

What Happens in Vegas is a romantic comedy that does its best to hit every trope in the genre. Occasionally it succeeds, but for the most part, it’s your run-of-the-mill rom-com with very little originality. Jack (Ashton Kutcher) is the typical laid-back slacker with no direction in his life. Joy (Cameron Diaz) is uptight and ambitious and needs to learn to lighten up and have fun. They have nothing in common and bicker constantly, but you just know they’re perfect for each other. The opposites attract trope is definitely a favorite of mine, but as I’ve said in many past reviews… it has to have some semblance of originality; otherwise, it’s just a rehash of rom-coms that have come before it. Unfortunately, What Happens in Vegas doesn’t have a lot of imagination. 

The majority of the movie is Joy and Jack doing whatever they can to drive the other crazy. They fight and scheme with their best friends to try and get the other to falter to claim the $3 million jackpot won in Vegas. And then they suddenly begin to understand each other. Their attitudes soften as they quickly fall in love – the movie is supposed to take place over six months, but there is very little alluding to the passing of time. Watching this, I feel as though I blinked, and all of a sudden they were in love. I suppose Kutcher and Diaz had okay chemistry, but to be honest, I was more invested in Lake Bell and Rob Corddry who play Joy and Jack’s prickly, snarky best friends. I would have preferred watching those two having to be married for six months. 

There were a few genuinely funny moments in the movie, but for the most part, every scene felt like they were recycled from similar romantic comedies. That being said, it’s not a terrible romantic comedy. Despite its many, many flaws, I still found myself laughing a bit and entertained by some of its shenanigans. There are plenty of other movies in the genre I would recommend for a lazy afternoon, but if you’re looking for a mindless, cookie-cutter rom-com, check out What Happens in Vegas. Or, at the very least, turn it on and fast forward to the parts with Lake Bell and Rob Corddry. 

Author: Romona Comet

"I'm probably watching a rom-com right now."