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Saturday, March 6, 2010

What Happened in Vegas was Opposite Reality

I watched What Happened in Vegas over the weekend. I figured with the ever-charming leads of Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher, it was hard to go wrong. The story was light and cute – perfect for wasting time instead of working on my outline.

However, the basic plot bothered me throughout. The writers had their opposites-attract protags meet and drunk marry in Vegas, then win a $3 million jackpot. They realize they’ve made a huge mistake. They’re both from NY, so they try to divorce there. Here’s where the plot goes to Oppositeville.

The judge orders them to live together and try to work things out before he’ll grant the divorce. And he won’t let either use the money until they do. Huh?

In NY, unless there are grounds (which don’t include irreconcilable differences, since they’re not a no-fault state) they need to separate for a year before divorcing. So the judge just made their marriage even longer. They could have tried to annul, but the writers didn’t go there. Why pick New York? It’s the last state in the union that doesn’t allow no fault divorce. It is the only one that would therefore require a separation, not a weird mandated togetherness period.

What could the writers have done to fix this? Well, the judge ordered them into counseling. So how about having the plot line show them knowing they have to stay apart but maybe the judge orders them into counseling during the separation. And instead of having them living together trying to get along, why not have them occasionally be so attracted to each other, despite knowing they’re so different, that they hook up? So maybe they have to hide the fact that they’re still hooking up as husband and wife.

Or they could have married in a covenant marriage state (how they’d do this drunk, I can’t imagine). Some states (not Nevada) allow the parties to agree to make divorce harder, including mandated counseling. This probably wasn’t practical for the writers. I’d have stuck with the mandated separation.

On the money side, they’re rich. I can’t imagine a legal scenario where the judge keeps them from spending the money. It’s marital property. They’ll have to split it. The judge will consider a host of factors before splitting it, so it might not go right down the middle. That part of the plot was ridiculous.

Wouldn’t it have been interesting to show how the different character personalities were spending the money? If one was burning through it, the judge might grant some temporary relief to halt or slow the spending. So that might work if the writers really wanted to freeze the funds for the story.

I know, I know. It’s a comedy. I have to grant some liberties. It bothered me, but I managed to find the movie enjoyable. It wasn’t Citizen Kane, but I wasn’t looking for art. Still, had the writers bothered to get it right, they might have made the movie even more interesting and enjoyable.

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