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What Happens in Vegas(2008)
For charismatic party guy Jack Fuller (Ashton Kutcher) and buttoned-up commodities trader Joy McNally (Cameron Diaz), a rowdy weekend coincidentally shared in Las Vegas should have, by all rights, ended up being little more than a random blur. That is, if these two vacationing New Yorkers didn't have a signed marriage license staring them in the face to shockingly remind them of the giant misstep they took while feeling no pain, Vegas-style. Stacking the deck, not only did Jack and Joy tie the knot after tying one on, but later scored a mind-blowing three million bucks in a slot machine bonanza. Well, Jack won it with Joy's quarter. At the machine she'd already been playing. Or was it the other way around? And whose loot is it anyway?
For more about What Happens in Vegas and the What Happens in Vegas Blu-ray release, see What Happens in Vegas Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 25, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Ashton Kutcher, Rob Corddry, Lake Bell, Treat Williams, Jason Sudeikis
Director: Tom Vaughan
» See full cast & crew
What Happens in Vegas Blu-ray Review
A forgettable Romantic Comedy comes to Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 25, 2008
What happens in Vegas you pay for when you get back home.
Has any other slogan become so trite and eye-roll inducing as "what happens in Vegas..."? "This is your brain" spawned a song by country artist Joe Diffie, "where's the beef?" has certainly seen its day, "got milk?" has triggered its own industry of "got ____?" ads, and "don't leave home without it" got a mention in Major League in the form of a mock American Express commercial. From TV commercials to first lady Laura Bush mentioning it on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and now to a major Hollywood motion picture starring Ashton Kutcher (Dude, Where's My Car? ) and Cameron Diaz (Shrek the Third), the saying has permeated our culture and run its course. It's time to find a new angle, advertising executives. Hopefully, What Happens in Vegas, a movie that was undoubtedly made for the sole purpose of cashing in on the waning popularity of a slogan, will prove to be its finally hurrah.
Joy (Cameron Diaz, Gangs of New York) and Jack (Ashton Kutcher, Dude, Where's My Car? ) are two strangers whose lives are on a collision course with destiny, and they'll do everything they can to stop fate in its tracks. Joy has recently been dumped by her fiancé and Jack is a typical slovenly bachelor who shows no signs of commitment in his relationships and has just been fired from his job -- by his own father. Joy and Jack both head to Vegas at the same time to escape their troubles, and as that pesky thing called fate (or predictable romantic comedy script) would have it, they meet, hit it off during a liquor-induced night on the town, and awaken to find they've tied the knot with a vending machine ring and no recollection of the ceremony. With no desire to be wed, the fireworks begin almost immediately and just as they are about to head their separate ways, Jack hits a $3,000,000 jackpot with Joy's quarter. With the large sum of cash in play, the couple head to court for a divorce and settlement. Judge Whopper (Dennis Miller, The Net), a veteran of a long marriage, sentences the couple to six months "hard marriage," requires them to attend weekly counseling with Dr. Twitchell (Queen Latifah, Stranger Than Fiction), and freezes their newly-won prize money. Chaos ensues as the couple tries to outdo one another through various schemes meant to prove the other is not willing to commit to the marriage and win the divorce case and earn a hefty sum of the cash. That is, of course, assuming they don't actually fall for one another in the process.
Perhaps the most predictable film of the decade and certainly one of the lesser Romantic Comedies I've reviewed, What Happens In Vegas gets absolutely nothing right. A genre that barely appeared on my radar screen before becoming a Blu-ray reviewer, but one that I am becoming more familiar with as a slow yet steady trickle of screeners representing this genre find their way to my doorstep, it now seems clear that the one key to making a successful Romantic Comedy is to present viewers with likable lead characters. That doesn't seem all that hard of a task, but apparently for all those involved with What Happens In Vegas, it was too high a hurdle to overcome. Joy, Jack, and those they surround themselves with, are characters we as the audience cannot help but loathe. They are unbearable, dull, and annoying in nearly every scene, generic goofballs who are neither grounded in reality nor blessed with agreeable personalities. They come off as superficial and terribly clichéd shells of individuals whose sole purposes revolve around setting the audience up for one lame gag after another, or playing on contrived weaknesses for either a laugh or a touchy-feely moment that comes with the appropriate swelling of sappy or romantic music but forgets the emotional pay-off, sometimes because the scene or situation is ridiculously scripted, and always because we just don't care about these characters. Generally, the "Chick Flick" suffers from predictability as a rule, but this fault is often overlooked if the characters are interesting and their plight one that will elicit a genuine emotional response by most audience members. What Happens In Vegas offers neither (in stark contrast to good-to-great films like 27 Dresses, Becoming Jane, and Enchanted), and the film revels in making a mockery of marriage, and while the film ends predictably upbeat and everyone "lives happily ever after," the journey from point A to point B is simply one not worth taking.
What Happens in Vegas Blu-ray, Video Quality
What Happens in Vegas comes to Blu-ray with a bold 1080p, 2.35:1 framed transfer. This transfer is a mixed bag, looking great at times and awkward at others. The movie offers a very natural, film-like transfer in many scenes. Detail is eye-catching and realistic, including background and distant objects that are often sharp and well-defined. Fine detail isn't as strong as the best of transfers in every regard, but the balance of "good" detail across the entirety of the image, rather than just in close-ups, is a positive. The opening montage where we meet the characters shows strong color reproduction and clarity in every shot. Black levels are remarkably strong, coming off as one of the finer aspect of the disc. There is a warm look to the proceedings with over-exaggerated colors and an abundance of bright, almost unnatural hues. Films such as this one or Drillbit Taylor offer colors so vibrant and over saturated that they border on distraction, but assuming the look is director-intended, its presence is most welcome, agree with it or not. Flesh tones veer toward the red side of the scale in many scenes, as expected considering the overblown nature of colors in the transfer. Sadly, there are a few instances where the transfer looks incredibly soft, offering a sharp contrast to the many scenes featuring nicely detailed objects, including those in distant backgrounds. Also, there is a processed, unnatural look to many scenes, looking almost like the actors in the scene were filmed in front of green screens with poor results. Indeed, I was not surprised to hear in the commentary track that there were several green screen shots filmed in New York with Vegas backgrounds digitally inserted later. This transfer is certainly an odd duck, and never having seen the film before, nor being privy to the director-intended look of the film, it's hard to judge. For the most part, however, it looks very nice and considering Fox's track record of releasing high quality discs, this one gets the benefit of the doubt in regards to its apparent shortcomings.
What Happens in Vegas Blu-ray, Audio Quality
What Happens in Vegas presents listeners with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless audio track. Fairly typical of its genre, this track is front heavy and dialogue-driven, but surrounds and subwoofer do get to come out and play a bit more than they do in other movies of this sort. Dialogue, the life blood of any Romantic Comedy, is strong, loud, and clear. So is everything else, for that matter, with an emphasis on "loud." The "screaming" scene in chapter five is not only highly annoying, but it also comes across as garbled and undefined. The track is boisterous and plenty noisy, with dance music, deep bass, and plenty more yelling, screaming, and irksome moments throughout. There is some decent ambience in the quieter scenes that works well. Check out the "morning after' scene in chapter eight at breakfast. The atmospheric sounds of a 3/4 empty casino are heard in the background to nice effect. Unfortunately, the soundstage never opens up and always feels tight and compact. There is no lack of effort here, but the end result is not overly impressive. The track is technically sound yet highly annoying, just like the movie. I'd recommend watching this one with the volume turned well below your normal level to save yourself the displeasure of hearing it in full force.
What Happens in Vegas Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
20th Century Fox presents What Happens in Vegas with a wide array of extra features that are mostly fluff and filler rather than substantive, engaging pieces. The features are headlined by a feature-length commentary track with director Tom Vaughn and editor Matt Friedman. This is a highly technical track that points out filming locations, re-edits and changes from the original script, various digital effects, and more. The track is also the first I can recall mentioning the Blu-ray specifically, and it is called "the definitive version of the movie" by director Tom Vaughn, a nice touch. Bottoms Up! An Intoxicating Vegas Experience is an interactive drinking game (with the appropriate warnings about consumption beforehand). When the words "I've never..." are uttered over the movie, a pop-up box appears prompting viewers to take a drink if they have done the "deed" as described. Insert the appropriate "viewers may need heavy drink to get through this movie anyway" joke here. Next in line is a gag reel (1080p, 5:10) and six deleted and extended scenes (1080p, 7:57) with occasional brief commentary by the director.
From the Law Firm of Stephen J. Hader, Esq. (1080p, 2:42) is a mock informercial for the fictional law firm of Stephen J. Hader, Divorce Attorney. DVD Extra Time With Zach Galifianakis (1080p, 8:20) is a somewhat amusing mock interview with the film's director. The interviewer pretends to be completely clueless in every subject discussed, and the humor here proved funnier than most anything in the movie itself. Next is a feature entitled Sitting Down With Cameron and Ashton (1080i, 8:26), which is a generally boring chat between the film's co-stars. An Inside Look At 'Marley and Me' (480p/1080p 1:01) features a brief preview (set to the theme from Chariots of Fire) of this upcoming film starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, directed by David Frankel. Finally, "Balls" (1080p, 1:39, denoted in the special features menu as a picture of a football, soccer ball, and basketball) is a short look at the different words the filmmakers substituted for "balls" in one particular scene to earn a lower rating (the line is intact in this unrated edition of the film). Disc two of this set contains a digital copy of the movie for playback on a PC or portable video device.
What Happens in Vegas Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
What Happens in Vegas is a skippable Romantic Comedy that offers absolutely nothing new to the genre, and forgets to include in its story the tried-and-true formulas that make this style of movie work. With unlikable characters, a paper-thin plot, lame jokes, and an ending that we see coming simply by reading a three or four sentence plot summary, What Happens In Vegas is bad, even for a Romantic Comedy. 20th Century Fox's release of this film on Blu-ray will satisfy fans. With a solid video presentation, a decent audio mix, and a few supplements, the disc isn't a total loss and is worth picking up for anyone who actually liked the movie. I cannot recommend this one, however, but if you take a gander, whether you buy or rent it, and find you dislike it as much as I did, I suggest denying any knowledge and, if anyone asks, simply tell them, "what happens in my home theater stays in my home theater."
Blu-ray bundles with What Happens in Vegas (2 bundles)
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What Happens in Vegas Blu-ray, News and Updates
• What Happens in Vegas Coming to Blu-ray - July 7, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher comedy 'What Happens in Vegas: Jackpot Extended Edition' to Blu-ray on August 26th, day-and-date with the DVD release. The film will be presented on a BD-50 using AVC ...
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