Monday, May 12, 2008

What Happens in Vegas

Sometimes you see a preview and know the flick is going to be a train wreck but, for whatever reason, decide to see it anyway. For example, what if you saw a preview that screamed, "Predictable, formulaic plot where the ending is a foregone conclusion and you know most of the road map; very few laughs to be expected", would you go see that movie?

I would.

And do. With regularity. For example, I will go on record here and now that Speed Racer (2008) is an insipid bit of banality unfit for human consumption. I plan to see it either Tuesday or Saturday.

Anyhow, Friday after work...extended hours, no less...the Goose and I were pondering our evening. Sadly, the following is a pretty typical conversation for us. Only the names of the movies have been changed because those are what were available.

"Okay, which one?"
"What's playing?"
"Well, we have seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Forbidden Kingdom, Baby Mama, and Iron Man. That leaves Made of Honor..."
"No interest."
"Good, me either. Redbelt, which I want to see but is not playing any time soon, Speed Racer which is going to be terrible..."
"Yeah, I know you want to see that one but I just can't do it."
"...and What Happens in Vegas".
"Which one is that?"
"You know...get dumped/fired, go to Vegas, get drunk, get married, have problems, get divorced, realize they were in love and get together."
"Oh, yeah, let's see that."

So off we went to the landmark 11th different theatre I have seen a new release in this year, and 25th movie...ouch. Someone has a serious addiction...

There we meet slacker/non-worker Jack Fuller (Ashton Kutcher) getting fired for laziness and incompetence by his Dad Jack Fuller Sr. (Treat Williams) while uptight over planner Joy McNally (Cameron Diaz) is getting dumped by Mason (Jason Sudeikis). So Vegas hater Joy, her best friend Tipper (Lake Bell) in one half, Jack and his best friend/lawyer Hater (Rob Corddry) in the other half, elect to go to Vagas where a computer snafu puts them in the same room. Soon, drunk, Joy & Jack find common ground, a ton of alcohol, and an all-night chapel where they get married.

Next morning the first amiably agree to get an annulment, then the split becomes heated as each tries to get in aa sharper barb. As they split Jack drops Joy's quarter in the slot, wins 3 million...and the war is on.

Their divorce request is in front of Judge Whopper (Dennis Miller), a marriage loving guy who sentences them to "6 months hard marriage" and orders them to try. To ensure genuine effort they have court-ordered meetings with psychiatrist Dr. Twitchell (Queen Latifah).

Of course, if either can appear to be making a good-faith effort to make the marriage work while the other is not, they get the whole 3 million.

So they try everything...stripper parties to get the other to cheat, lying about when the psychiatrist appointments are...basically, everything except trying to get along.

And in Hollywood, where arguing and fighting = love...that has the expected results, though of course immediately before realizing they are in love they have to have the "final split".

On leaving the movie I asked the Goose, "Were there any plot "twists" we missed before we went in?"

So yeah, it was predictable.

But it was also pretty funny. Sure, they gave you the whole story and a number of the better jokes in the was still amusing. And there were some stellar lines.

And there was more to it. This movie actually showed some warmth along the way...Joy doesn't just pull, "I like being with a butt head" out of nowhere. She sees some things along the nothing Jack does is ever good enough for his Dad which, in movie terms, is saying it isn't his fault he doesn't finish things. How good he is with kids. And she starts liking him.

For his part, Jack does not so much see her specialness, he just sees what a bonehead he has been. Well, partially incorrect. With her encouragement, he starts...and finishes...building a piece of furniture. He has a moment set up for a crushing of her and instead turns it into a sweet "first dance". He becomes...likable. Responsible. Caring.

I think the role he played as Kelso on That 70s Show almost stereotyped him. And he has sort of fallen into it. He played the same role in Just Married (2003) opposite the always looking stoned Brittany Murphy, the same role in Guess Who (2005) and now in What Happens in Vegas (2008). But he is good at it.

And I am going to say something here that will have "serious" critics rolling over in their snoots.

He is good at it because he brings something extra to it. He creates roles that, on the surface, seem identical but he differentiates them, he brings warmth to some...I have seen the other 2 romcoms mentioned above and seen him in the unspeakably bad Dude, Where's My Car and there is growth. He is more complete in this role even though the movie plot is nearly as insipid as that of Dude. Somehow, he gets you to care about a chowderhead and make it believable. He does not draw attention to the changes his character goes through yet when you see the results and look back, you sort of nod your head and say "I see where that came from".

With say...a Jim Carrey in the role, these character changes would have been in a shouting, overacted histrionic way. With Kuther they actually seem natural and real. His acting...and the able work by Diaz as well...turn a stupid, formulaic bit of fluff into an enjoyable bit of diversion. Not something I thought I would ever say about "Kelso".


Al said...

I know you're not seeing these horrible movies because of the popcorn...or are you?

Darth Weasel said...

partly the popcorn, partly because they are things the Goose wants to see and partly because I just love movies...even bad ones.