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WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS

SYNOPSIS:
A rowdy weekend in Vegas for two complete strangers, party loving Jack Fuller (Ashton Kutcher) and stitched up commodities trader Joy McNally (Cameron Diaz), ends with a hangover and a surprise marriage licence. Just as they are about to go their separate ways, a lucky last quarter gets them a $3 million poker machine jackpot - and the instant problem of whose it is. Judge Whopper (Dennis Miller) sentences them to six months hard marriage to try and make it work, instead of the annulment they were seeking. While trying to make the marriage work is hard - but it's impossible with the input of their friends Hater (Rob Corddry) and Tipper (Lake Bell). Jack's father (Treat Williams), Joy's boss Banger (Dennis Farina), her snobbish ex-fiance Mason (Jason Sudeikis) and savvy shrink Dr Twitchell (Queen Latifah) all play a part - but not quite as the Judge had imagined.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
You can tell from the trailer and marketing poster just what sort of romantic comedy you're getting into with this film, which is more than could be said for the hapless couple at the centre of it, party boy Jack (Ashton Kutcher) and hardworking trader Joy (Cameron Diaz). Joy is not what she brings to Jack, after their introductory one-off party night in Las Vegas, which is degenerates into a debauched romp, both of them letting their hair down - as well as their guard.

The morning brings a rude awakening as new husband and wife - these things happen fast in Vegas - and the realisation they hate each other. This is a bad start to a life together. Don't worry, it gets worse. They are forced by the meddling Judge Whopper (Dennis Miller) to co-habit - which is not the same as living together, as we all know.

Aided and abetted by their respective his-and-her friends, Hater (Rob Corddry) and Tipper (Lake Bell), the unhappily wed couple try to sabotage each other to be rid of the marriage and in full possession of the money. With Joy poised for a big promotion from her no-nonsense boss (Dennis Farina) and Jack, fired from his job by his boss, his dad (Treat Williams), their status and their states of mind could not be more different.

All this is par for the course as a rom-com aiming to provide belly laughs at the non-lovers' expense, teasing out the feuding possibilities to almost breaking point before turning slowly towards the finish line where the feuding abates and the now divorcing couple discover .... Guess what?

The film is made with all the unsubtle, overstated, ham fisted enthusiasm that only Hollywood can bring to even the most fragile material (and this isn't that fragile), even engineering two endings. Well, one and a half ... The film delivers what it promises as a freewheeling, bitchy-mouthed romantic comedy, so it's a good date movie. Perhaps newlyweds, too.

Review by Louise Keller:
It may not be as uplifting as winning a jackpot, but this easy-on-the-eye romantic comedy has madcap energy to spare as opposites attract and discover there's an up and a down side to being yourself. Cameron Diaz could play this role in her sleep and make it interesting, while Ashton Kutcher does a good job of matching her joie de vivre. You can be sure of getting what you expect in this predictable, contrived charmer that offers a no-brains-required story combined with a few laughs and crazy situations.

Allowing us to quickly understand Joy (Diaz) and Jack (Kutcher)'s desperately negative state of minds, the film begins with candid snapshots that describe their unfortunate romantic and work-place status. 'She's awfully hostile for a girl called Joy,' Jack comments not long after they are accidentally thrown together in a Vegas hotel room. It starts with a one-drink dare and ends up with a cheap wedding ring from a vending machine and three million dollars. But that's just the beginning. Most of the film concentrates on the six hard months of wedded misery in which Joy and Jack try to wear each other down, with the help of their wacky (well named) friends Tipper (Lake Bell) and Hater (Rob Corddry). Much of the action is pretty silly as Joy and Jack annoy each other with the basics of apartment sharing, and the slapstick falls flat on a few occasions. But there are some good ideas, including the casting of Queen Latifah as the marriage counsellor and there's a delicious twist that untwists at Joy's work retreat, involving her beagle-eyed boss (Dennis Farina in fine form).

There is never any doubt as to where the story is heading, but it's fun watching Diaz and Kutcher go through the paces. Director Tom Vaughan keeps the pace snappy and slides the tempo up and down as required. I had a good time with this upbeat mainstream comedy that never pretends to be anything other than what it is - and that's fun.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS (M)
(US, 2008)

CAST: Cameron Diaz, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Robb Corddry, Krysten Ritter, Lake Bell, Zach Galifianakis, Dennis Farina, Dennis Miller, Michelle Krusiec, Cheryl Cosenza, Cassidy Gard

PRODUCER: Michael Aguilar, Dean Georgaris, Shawn Levy

DIRECTOR: Tom Vaughan

SCRIPT: Dana Fox

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Matthew F. Leonetti

EDITOR: Matt Friedman

MUSIC: Christophe Beck

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stuart Wurtzel

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 8, 2008







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