*** (out of 5)
January 10, 2003
Ashton Kutcher as TOM LEEZAK
Brittany Murphy as SARAH MCNERNEY
Christian Kane as PETER PRENTIS
David Moscow as KYLE
Directed by: Shawn Levy
BY KEVIN CARR
“Just Married” is a bizarre mixture of original comedy with fresh delivery and painfully old gags. So much of the plot has been seen in every light romance or teen sex comedy from “Bachelor Party” all the way through “She’s All That.” Some of the most prominent plot devices – like the rich girl falling for the guy from the other side of the tracks – goes as far back as oral tradition fairy tales.
Sarah (Brittany Murphy) and Tom (Ashton Kutcher) are two twenty-somethings that hook up one day after a Marsha Brady football accident on the beach. Tom, a struggling radio personality who does the 2:00 a.m. traffic report, is initially unfazed by the fact that Sarah comes from one of the wealthiest families in Beverly Hills. The two start dating and eventually decide to get married after only nine months of living together.
Of course, Sarah’s family disapproves of Tom, and there is the standard tense wedding moments in which Tom debates the same-old-same-old “Why get married when you can play the field?” questions from his embarrassingly old best man Kyle, who looks like he’s pushing 40. However, they eventually get married and head off to Europe for a honeymoon. While in Europe, everything goes wrong. They almost burn down a hotel, they lose their rental car over a cliff in the Alps, and each newlywed has a questionable rendezvous that could lead to infidelity.
The movie opens with the not-so-happy couple disembarking from their plane after a hellish honeymoon. At this point, they hate each other, and an hour and a half of flashbacks show us how everything went down the toilet (at some points, literally). So, there’s no big surprise that things go haywire on the honeymoon.
Against my will, I actually liked the characters of Sarah and Tom. Murphy and Kutcher bring a slacker-esque charm to these roles. This is actually one of the few movies I’ve seen Murphy in that she is attractive, having played less glamorous roles in “Girl Interrupted” and “Don’t Say A Word.”
This is the first starring vehicle for Brittany Murphy, who has come a long, long way from the backwards burnout in 1996’s “Clueless.” Having gained recognition in supporting roles of various films such as “Riding in Cars with Boys” and the Eminem hit “8 Mile,” Murphy is starting to emerge as a new leading lady. At the very least, she is following in the footsteps of her predecessors like Julia Roberts by sleeping with all of her co-stars. Having recently ended a relationship with Eminem, Murphy is reportedly the new main squeeze for Ashton Kutcher.
Although her physical comedy seems a bit forced in many of the scenes, there is a glimmer of hope that Murphy can bring her own brand of slapstick to the big screen and remain sexy. Her only competition in this regard is the fearless and sexy Selma Blair.
Kutcher, still hot from “That 70s Show” (and recovering from the entirely forgettable “Texas Rangers”), plays a very lovable Tom. Not that I’d want him marrying my teenage daughter (if I had one), but on screen he comes across very well. He’ll never be the leading man, but he could very easily segue into films in the more quirky roles. (It is interesting to note that Kutcher was the second choice for Josh Hartnett’s role in “Pearl Harbor.” As much as I loath Josh Hartett, even I have to admit that Kutcher wouldn’t have been much better.)
As I have said before, the cliches are abound in this film. Clandestinely meeting them in Europe is Peter, the protege of Sarah’s father and the family’s original choice for her suitor. Unfortunately, Peter is somewhat half-baked. He isn’t dastardly enough to really hate, but he’s still a sleazeball for trying to break up their marriage.
Although it may sound like a cliche as well, many of the funniest parts are straight out of the trailers. For example, the fact that Sarah’s mother is called “Pussy” would have been so much funnier and shocking if I hadn’t heard it in every single advertisement for the film. (Although there are some excellent one-liner jokes from this point, such as “Pussy’s a mess,” and “How’s Pussy feeling?”) Likewise, the cockroach gag from the trailers is so ingrained after seeing the ads that you find yourself waiting for it to happen rather than be shocked, surprised and amused. In fact, when it does happen, I didn’t find it funny at all since I had seen it so many times before.