By Kim Hollis
August 22, 2003
The whole Ashton Kutcher phenomenon just eludes me. I never particularly understood why his “pretty boy” character on That ‘70s Show was supposed to be the hunky guy, and while Punk’d has its humorous moments, it’s the format rather than his talent that makes the show worthwhile. Really, as far as I can tell, he’s the next coming of Tom Green, that inexplicable breakout success whose 15 minutes faded almost as quickly as he ascended.
So why would I torture myself by sitting through a pay-per-view showing of Just Married? The simple response is that the movie features Christian Kane (formerly of the television series Angel) and I’m one of the seven people who really enjoys his work. And while he gets a little bit further than the Bruce Campbell-esque tendency to get killed off in the first scene, his presence is nowhere near enough to ease the pain that Just Married causes.
To no one’s surprise, Just Married is a predictable and by-the-book romantic comedy with an abundance of dumb physical humor. It does hit some humorous notes from time to time, but for the most part the film is laugh-free.
The only real saving grace is Brittany Murphy, who gamely tries to make the best of a really bad situation. She has a strong sense of comic timing and is charming and sweet in a role that basically requires…charm and sweetness.. She’s so fragile and small that you just want to pick her up, hug her, and give her a milkshake or three. A gifted young comedienne, she is bright and sunny and even when the various bits fall flat, you’re willing to forgive her because she’s earnestly giving this dud of a screenplay her best effort.
Kutcher, on the other hand, is just enmity-inducing. He’s a giant doofus who is supposed to be the guy everyone likes, but instead is annoying and obnoxious. You root for physical violence to occur to him, and happily it does, repeatedly. When his character wonders how the gamin Brittany Murphy could ever be attracted to a guy like him, you’re right there with him.
Because really, the two have virtually zero chemistry, which is somewhat surprising since they became an item while working together on the set. Perhaps Kutcher just isn’t believable as a boyfriend in general, since nobody’s buying that he and Demi Moore are a real couple, either.
In the end, though, the movie is just a forgettable piece of fluff even with the animosity that Kutcher inspires. Neither good enough to be a guilty pleasure nor awful enough to make a “worst of” list, Just Married is nothing more than a substandard entry in a long line of humdrum and humorless rom-coms. The concept certainly had potential in a War of the Roses kind of way; unfortunately, it tries to be cute and cuddly instead of being dark and vicious. That’s probably too much to expect with someone of the acting caliber of Kutcher, anyway. Unless you’re a huge fan of either of the two stars, Just Married really isn’t worth the time or effort.