What Happens in Vegas

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What Happens in Vegas
What happens un Vegas poster
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTom Vaughan
Produced by
Written byDana Fox
Music byChristophe Beck
CinematographyMatthew F. Leonetti
Edited byMatt Friedman
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • April 22, 2008 (2008-04-22) (London)
  • May 9, 2008 (2008-05-09) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$35 million
Box office$219.3 million

What Happens in Vegas is a 2008 American romantic comedy film[1] directed by Tom Vaughan and written by Dana Fox. It stars Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher as a couple who get married and win a casino jackpot prize during a drunken night in Las Vegas, but their simple plan to get a quick divorce and divide the money is complicated by the divorce court judge's ruling. The title is based on the Las Vegas marketing catchphrase "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas."


In New York City, high-strung equity trader Joy Ellis McNally is dumped by her fiancé at a surprise birthday party she throws for him. At the same time, easy-going carpenter Jack Fuller Jr. is fired from his job by his father, Jack Sr. Both become emotionally distraught and, with best friends Toni "Tipper" who is a bartender, and Jeff "Hater", a lawyer, take a debauched trip to Las Vegas.

Joy and Jack meet by chance when they are given the same hotel room because of a computer error. After clearing up the misunderstanding and receiving upgraded rooms and coupons to various clubs, they party and drink together and end up getting married. The next morning, they agree it was a mistake and decide to divorce.

Before they do so, Jack uses a quarter Joy gives him in a slot machine. He hits a three million dollar jackpot and Joy reminds Jack that they are married and hence, she is entitled to half of the money. The couple return to New York, where they attempt to divorce. The judge declares that the couple cannot divorce until they attempt to co-exist for six months, while attending weekly sessions with Dr. Twitchell, a marriage counselor. If they work at the marriage but still want to divorce after six months, each will be permitted to keep half the winnings. If either party does not cooperate, the money will be tied up in litigation by the judge.

The newlyweds devise more and more cunning schemes to undermine each other, such as Jack telling Joy that their counseling session is canceled to prove she is not committed, and Joy inviting girls to their apartment to try to get Jack to cheat on her, throwing a party where Jack's friend Dave shows up. Jack gives Joy's ex-fiancé, Mason, her engagement ring back without Joy knowing. However, at Joy's job retreat, Jack and Joy find themselves developing an unexpected attraction to one another.

After they get back from the retreat, it is time for the judge to decide what happens to the money. On her way to the hearing, Joy sees her ex-fiancé Mason, and he tells her that he wants her back. He gives her back the engagement ring and tells her that she is good enough for him. Joy realizes that Jack set her up to get back with Mason and cheat on Jack so that they will be divorced. Joy walks away from Mason and goes to the hearing. At the hearing, their marriage counselor testifies that the couple tried to work on their marriage. The judge decides that they will split the remaining 1.4 million dollars (after taxes, bills Joy ran up, and money Jack spent on his new woodworking business). Joy tells the judge she does not want any of the money and as she leaves she gives the engagement ring to Jack, telling him she wants nothing from him.

Joy gets the promotion she had been working for, but declines it, telling her boss she would rather be happy doing nothing than doing something she hates and being miserable. Jack's parents tell him they think it looks like he and Joy are in love. Realizing his mistake, he goes to find her. Tipper tells Jack that she quit her job and that nobody knows where she is. He suspects that she has gone to a beach (Fire Island, New York) that she told him about as the only place that makes her feel truly happy. Finding her, Jack asks her to be his wife (again) and she says yes.

During the closing credits, there are scenes from the day Jack and Joy get married, of Tipper and Hater subsequently enacting a plan of revenge on Mason,[2] and of Hater cutting off Dave.



The film had its world premiere at the Odeon in Leicester Square, London on April 22, 2008. Twentieth Century Fox held the U.S. premiere on May 1, 2008 at the Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, CA.[3] It opened in wide release in the United States on May 9, 2008.

American Big Brother 9 housemates Ryan and Sharon were given a special screening of the film after winning a "luxury competition" in April. They were also awarded tickets to the May 1 Hollywood premiere.[4]


Box office[edit]

What Happens in Vegas grossed $80.3 million in the United States and Canada and $131.4 million in other territories for a total of $219.4 million worldwide, against a production budget of $35 million.[5]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $20.2 million in 3,215 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking finishing second at the box office behind Iron Man.[6]

Critical response[edit]

What Happens in Vegas received generally negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a rating of 26%, based on 131 reviews, with an average rating of 4.44/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "What Happens in Vegas has a few laughs, but mostly settles for derivative romantic comedy conventions and receives little help from a pair of unlikable leads."[7] On Metacritic the film has a score of 36 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[8]

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times slammed it, stating that What Happens in Vegas is "one of those junky time-wasters that routinely pop up in movie theaters".[9] Metromix Chicago's Matt Pais called it "bland, boring and not fun at all".[10]

The film received two Razzie Award nominations including Worst Actress (Cameron Diaz) and Worst Screen Couple (Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher). Both awards went to Paris Hilton for The Hottie and the Nottie.[11]


  1. ^ Vaughan, Tom. "What Happens in Vegas". Archived from the original on August 4, 2019.
  2. ^ "You Know Why". YouTube. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
  3. ^ "Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher at Twentieth Century Fox World Premiere of 'What Happens in Vegas' on May 1, 2008 at the Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, CA. – Photo Gallery – Variety – photos, pictures, images, photographs, pics". Variety. May 3, 2008.
  4. ^ "The Eviction Vote Comes With Consequences for One HouseGuest. The House Competes for a Star-Studded Luxury Prize". CBS. Archived from the original on March 30, 2008. Retrieved April 22, 2008.
  5. ^ "What Happens in Vegas (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 15, 2008.
  6. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for May 9–11, 2008". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 12, 2008.
  7. ^ "What Happens in Vegas". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  8. ^ "What Happens in Vegas". Metacritic. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  9. ^ Dargis, Manohla (May 9, 2008). "Morning Hangover, Spouse and Jackpot". The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
  10. ^ Pais, Matt (May 8, 2008). "What Happens in Vegas". Metromix Chicago. Archived from the original on May 12, 2008. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  11. ^ "Razzie Awards: Awards for 2009". February 21, 2009. Retrieved August 20, 2016.

External links[edit]