Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 10 September 2009
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
The one-word title is a noun at first. Its verb meaning comes later, after you’ve met the characters.
Reynold’s Extract comes in Cherry, S’Mores, Root Beer and Cookies 'N Cream, among other flavors. Owner Joel Reynold (Jason Bateman) doesn’t get enough sex from wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) if he doesn’t get home by 8 pm. That's when she dons the dreaded sweatpants that are to Joel what Waterloo was to Napoleon.
Intrusive neighbor Nathan (David Koechner) has a knack for clueless chatter that corners the couple into unwanted chunks of wasted time spent conversing with the clueless nitwit because they don’t know how to politely decline. Nathan won’t let them.
Joel’s on the verge of selling the company he built from the ground up to industry giant General Mills for a tidy sum. The extract factory itself is populated by Rory, (T.J. Miller) a garage band musician, a busybody named Mary (Beth Grant), several non-English speaking employees, Brian (J.K. Simmons) Joel's second-in-command, who calls everyone “dinkus” behind their back, and a dedicated if somewhat misguided management wannabe named Step (Clifton Collins, Jr.).
On the other side of town, scam artist Cindy (Mila Kunis) understands how to use her feminine charms to make off with other people’s property. It doesn’t matter if it’s a brand new electric guitar or an unsuspecting woman’s kitschy purse, complete with a tutu-wearing rabbit charm. Cindy has sticky fingers and an eye for lucrative scenarios, wherever they may present themselves.
A freak accident removes one of Step’s testicles, and the ensuing events escalate into confusion when Cindy is hired as a temp and immediately sets her sights on Step, goading him into suing the factory for the big settlement it will bring.
Before Joel knows this, he falls under Cindy’s spell, soliciting the “pool boy” a.k.a. callow gigolo Brad (Dustin Milligan) to sleep with his wife so that he can proceed to woo Cindy without guilt. Joel is egged on by best friend Dean (Ben Affleck) a bartender who likes his recreational substances and offers Joel advice with all the maturity of a seventh-grade boy.
To make matters worse, the factory workers demand a piece of Joel's profit from the sale of the company, which suddenly might not happen due to the pending testicle-based lawsuit.
What's poor Joel to do? He's on the verge of losing his wife, his business, and his self-respect. The rest of the film details Joel's efforts to untangle the misunderstandings. There's no real redemption here, just the humorous meanderings of a motley crew of average Joes and Janes. Still the viewer is invested enough to care, and that's something.
Director Mike Judge (Office Space, Beavis & Butthead, King of the Hill) declines to wallow in the mud of slapstick humor and grossness, deciding instead to highlight the absurdities and peculiarities of regular people. The laughs are subtle, with a quiet lunacy that makes them that much more hilarious.
Jason Bateman displays his ever-growing range as a mature actor, shifting from frustration to bewilderment to kindness as effortlessly as changing a shirt. Kristen Wiig, known for her capacity for extreme silliness, tones it down a few notches to play Suzie (who's cheated with the pool boy more times than the number of days they've known each other) as a sympathetic character.
Mila Kunis is necessarily seductive and sneaky, departing nicely from her That 70's Show squeaky-clean goody two shoes. J.K. Simmons, as usual, turns in a fine performance that let's his character operate just to the left of reality. Ben Affleck is an absolute gem of a stoner/philosopher and I've never appreciated him more.
Clifton Collins, Jr., David Koechner, and Dustin Milligan are allowed to be single-dimensional characters, but in all cases, the portrayals blend into the colorful ensemble cast, enhancing the plot in delightful ways. Each performance is like finding the coveted prize in a cereal box – you still get to eat the cereal; the prize just makes it that much better.
The verb part of the title comes from what Judge was able to distill from both characters and actors. You'll want to bottle it for the times when you need a little levity. Just a few drops will do.