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Review: What Happens in Vegas… (2008)

Directed by: Tom Vaughan | 99 minutes | comedy, romance | Actors: Cameron Diaz, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Krysten Ritter, Lake Bell, Dennis Farina, Zach Galifianakis, Rob Corddry, Michelle Krusiec, Jason Sudeikis, Dennis Miller, Delia Sheppard, Maddie Corman, Kimberly Dorsey, Michael Harkins, Blake Young Fountain, Cassidy Gard, Cheryl Cosenza, Ben Best, Matthew Martini, Russ Russo, Steve Sirkis, Deirdre O’Connell, Lauren Reeves, Brian M. Wixson, Eric Zuckerman, Meagan Gordon, Caroline Willman, Benita Robledo, Tom Stratford, Debargo Sanyal , Junes B. Zahdi, Joe Mancini, Ricky Garcia, Bob Pepper, Tyler Barnes, Adam Zuniga, Adam Sansiveri, Clem Cheung, Christopher Negrin, Jeremy Redleaf, Heather Kristin, Adam Goodnoff-Cernese, Billy Eichner, Charles Pendleton, Arlo Hemphill

According to the standard formula, a well-known story unravels about a boy and a girl who fall in love with each other “against will and thanks”. The right strings are hit the right way. Important for the working of this formula: the postponement of the climax, in the form of the ‘real’ kiss or a real marriage and a lot of humor-filled resistance from the main characters, while of course we have known for a long time that it will be okay, just not how. Also not unimportant, the minor characters, of course in the form of the girl’s best friend and the boy’s best friend, who passionately support and defend their party and hate each other, or would they too…? You do not know!

Purebred horses in the lighter genre and darlings of the Hollywood mattress Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher have been hired in this love vehicle to laugh and finally shed a tear in a sigh of relief. But it must be said, they live up to their status as delicious animals and popular A-actors again, there is nothing wrong with that. They also get along well, which is of course important for a romantic comedy and the two main supporting roles are also well cast in the form of Lake Bell and Rob Corddry, who, as bad advisers, make a nice contribution to the humor bag. A small downside for us Dutch and many other Europeans: those Americans have a thing for Las Vegas, there it happens, you can act crazy there, you go crazy there, the title also refers to that: what happens there is wild and there you shouldn’t talk about it further. Although in the south of the Netherlands this feeling is recognized in the celebration of carnival, where one can also pinch the buttocks of others ‘anonymously’ for a few days, for the rest of the Netherlands it is less desirable and therefore less recognizable, at least in that shape then. Many experience Vegas much more as a super bourgeois and crass gambling paradise for stupid people. Luckily, that whole Vegas thing is just the starting point of a story that’s otherwise pretty universal.

Tom Vaughn’s first major Hollywood feature film won’t go down in history as the greatest movie ever, let alone the most original, but he delivers a nice romantic comedy with “What Happens in Vegas”. So no surprises, but good acting and a pleasant chemistry between the main characters. No noteworthy gaps in the script, other than that Jack seems to have plenty of money while he is unemployed and undoubtedly has no savings account. Furthermore, we see everything coming from miles away, of course, but the road to the denouement is right and is pleasant and relaxed, just not too relaxed and larded with a number of fun jokes. Great entertainment and then quickly forgotten.

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English Reviews

Review: The Bounty Hunter (2010)

The Bounty Hunter (2010)

Directed by: Andy Tennant | 106 minutes | action, comedy, romance | Actors: Gerard Butler, Jennifer Aniston, Christine Baranski, Natalie Morales, Jason Sudeikis, Siobhan Fallon, Cathy Moriarty, Peter Greene, Liam Ferguson, Daisy Tahan, Ruby Feliciano, Dorian Missick, Adam Rose, Frank Apollonio, Peter Conboy, Joel Garland, Eric Zuckerman, Kevin Cannon, Jason Kolotouros, Reyna de Courcy, Bob Kaplan, Frosty Lawson, Robert Feeley, Joe Zarriello

Truly successful romantic comedies are rare. A first and fairly important threshold for filmmakers within this genre. In the last few decades, only ‘Groundhog Day’ has really come to the fore, and maybe you can count ‘Shakespeare in Love’. In addition, Woody Allen has its own playing field, but no good matches have been played there for a long time either. The reason why the rom-com continues to make an unprecedented contribution to the annual film production therefore has an increasingly strong commercial aspect. Movies in this genre don’t have to be good. As long as the star couple on the bill is sufficiently bankable, the director, plot and further cast become secondary to keep costs low and you still have a solid return. At least that’s the formula.

If you’re lucky, it’ll be accompanied by some strong jokes (often from the supporting cast), an entertaining story, and an upbeat soundtrack. However, ‘The Bounty Hunter’ is neither a high flyer nor successful in-between entertainment and thus falls outside the above categories. All parts that are supposed to provide the filming pleasure within that standard formula are absent. In the first place, there is zero chemistry between Aniston and Butler, one comedic supporting role is even more retarded than the other by the hair. Now the latter is often the case with the predictable plots of the genre, but the developments here are so standard that you can fill in the entire film based on the title and premise. Any comic distraction or original find is therefore nowhere to be found. Not in the bumbling introduction, not in the predictable middle, not in the hackneyed ending and certainly not in the messy and absurd storylines that run off the main theme. While director Andy Tennant in the past regularly managed to raise contributions to the genre somewhat above average (‘Anna and the King’, ‘Hitch’), this production seems to have run out of cake for a while. Even the supporting soundtrack features ill-used, temporary pop hits (Kesha, for example) and songs that distract you from the story because you have to ask whose idea it was to assist this ridiculous scene with this song.

The most glaring flaw, however, is the injustice done to Aniston and Butler. Both have proven to be much better, in various genres, but here the plot and the supporting cast fall short, making their interaction only irritating in the end. But a greater injustice actually falls on the viewer’s plate. After all, a nearly two-hour comedy where there’s no laughter to be found is just plain boring. Especially because those same two hours you have to watch an incessant series of unsuccessful attempts by the actors and the story. How the creators get that fans of the genre are still waiting for golf carts driving in ponds, stalking losers chasing the female lead and stereotypical Disney-esque bad guys is really the only joke of the film.