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What Happens in Vegas (2008)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/26/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/15/2008
One usually thinks of romantic-comedies as being a genre unto itself. However, rom-coms (as they are known), can be broken down into sub-categories. Some are goofy, some are more serious, some are sappy, and some are unrealistic. But, even the more serious films try to keep an upbeat, positive vibe. So, how many rom-coms can be described as cruel? (And by cruel, I mean a cruel vibe in the film, not that it was cruel that someone made you watch the movie.) What Happens in Vegas is a film which is about love and relationships, but it's not afraid to show its mean streak.
The opening of What Happens in Vegas introduces us to two very different people. Joy McNally (Cameron Diaz) is a very organized and uptight woman who works on Wall Street. Her habit of "planning to plan" has caused her fiance to dump her. Her best friend, Tipper (Lake Bell), suggests that they go to Vegas to blow off some steam. Jack Fuller (Ashton Kutcher) is a party-animal who never has steady relationships and has just gotten fired from his job in a closet factory. His best friend, Hater (Rob Corddry), suggest that they go to Vegas to blow off some steam. Once in Las Vegas, the four have been accidentally double-booked into the same suite. Reaping the benefits of free VIP passes, the four hit the town and Joy & Jack really hit it off. They spend the night drinking and complaining about their lives to one another. When they awaken the next morning, they find that they've gotten married. In the light of day, they agree that a marriage would never work and part ways just as Jack wins $3 million from a slot machine.
Back in New York City, the two file for divorce, but they both want the money. The judge doesn't want to grant a quicky divorce and orders the two to actually attempt the marriage for six months if they want to see any of the cash. Neither Joy nor Jack are happy with this arrangement, and they both immediately attempt to sabotage the other. As the stakes rise, and the pranks become more and more cruel, Jack and Joy find that all is fair in love and war.
For a romantic-comedy, What Happens in Vegas has a very convoluted premise. We've seen other movies/TV shows where a couple got drunk and got married, but this one adds several layers and details to that notion. Not only do we get a surprising amount of character detail for this sort of film (although, it's all very stereotypical), the element of the money takes things ever farther. So, while it's not the most original movie ever made, the opening of What Happens in Vegas does bring in some new ideas and things look very promising.
However, the last 2/3 of the film don't measure up to the beginning. One Jack and Joy are ordered to live together, they both decide to make each other's lives a living hell. The problem is that this is a PG-13 movie aimed at a younger demographic, so the entire things becomes very lame. Think of it as The War of the Roses lite. They attempt to lure one another into cheating and Jack removes the toilet seat (a gag which was revealed in the trailer) and things don't move beyond that. However, despite the fact that the trickery is sophomoric, the level of cruelty behind them is real, which makes the ending all the more unbelievable. I won't reveal how the film ends, but if the ending surprises you in any way, then you've obviously never seen a movie before. (I was hoping that the Disc would include an alternate ending where the exact opposite of what was knew was going to happen happened, but no such luck. My bet is that it wasn't even considered.)
Of course, most people who seek out What Happens in Vegas will be doing some for the casting. When Ashton Kutcher is in Punk'd mode, he can be very annoying, but he's fine here, and playing an immature character certainly suits him well. I was pleasantly surprised by Cameron Diaz's performance at first, as she's playing someone who's uptight. But, by the end of the movie, she's met all of the Cameron Diaz move requirements: sing badly, dance awkwardly, play sports. I can only imagine that they are in her contract for each film. Of course, Rob Corddry runs away with every scene that he's in and Zach Galfifanakis has some good moments. Again, What Happens in Vegas had real potential, and it does provide some funny, off-beat moments. But, for the most part, it sticks to the Hollywood formula and suffers for this.
What Happens in Vegas hits the jackpot onBlu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic, especially the pastels of Las Vegas. The image is very detailed, so much so that 36 year old Diaz looks old in this. The picture has a nice depth and it's never overly bright. The Disc holds a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. For a rom-com, this is a pretty powerful track. Simply go to the montage in Chapter 7 to hear the stereo, surround, and bass effects present here. The stereo effects are quite detailed and the in-film music provides substantial subwoofer effects.
The What Happens in Vegas Blu-ray Disc contains an unusual assortment of extras. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Tom Vaughan and Editor Matt Friedman. This is an informative chat, as the two discuss the making of the film. The piece gets a bit technical at times, but they give us some good info about the locations, the cast, and the tone of the film. "Bottms Up!: An Intoxicating Vegas Experience" is an interactive drinking game using "I've Never" statements in the film. Are we really this bored? The Disc offers a 5-minute GAG REEL. The Blu-ray contains six DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES which run about 8 minutes. Most of these are simply longer versions of moments from the movie. We do get some more Zach Galifianankis, which is a good thing. "From the Law Firm of Stephen J. Hader, Esq." (3 minutes) is a fake commercial featuring Rob Corddry as the world's most bizarre lawyer. "DVD Extra Time with Zach Galifianakis" (8 minutes) has the comedian interviewing Director Tom Vaughan. "Sitting Down with Cameron and Ashton" (9 minutes) has the two actors interviewing one another, where they discuss the film.
Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long