What Happens in Vegas (2008)

(On TV, April 2015) A surprisingly common failing of romantic comedies is the way they can twist and turn a fresh premise into nothing more than an ultra-conventional third act.  So it is that the best thing about What Happens in Vegas –two mismatched characters forced into matrimony due to a series of laughable contrivances, and then trying to break out of it- is almost completely undone by a third act that could have been appended to just any other romantic comedy ever filmed.  (This misdirection also applies to the setting as, despite the title, most of What Happens in Vegas actually happens in New York.)  Still, it’s hard to be entirely ill-willed toward a film that does have a number of laughs, energetic performances and pleasantly absurd situations.  Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher are pleasant enough as the lead couple (neither of them stepping away from their usual persona), whereas Lake Bell and Rob Corddry both do the best they can with the ingrate task of playing the friends (and expositionary appendages) of the protagonists.  What Happens in Vegas itself isn’t much more than a mainstream time-waster (it’s easy to imagine a much edgier film based more or less on the same premise), but it’s innocuous and watchable without too much effort, which isn’t a bad thing as far as romantic comedies are concerned.  Even the ones with interchangeable third acts.

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