Just Married Review

Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy seem too hip by far to play the dumb roles assigned to them in Just Married. This is a bland but agreeable slapstick comedy that reminded me of the National Lampoon's Vacations as well as the sex farces Blake Edwards used to make with Dudley Moore, like 10 and Micki And Maude. That's no bad thing at a time when most comedies are based on Porky's but a good farce needs a Dudley Moore or a Chevy Chase who can play clowns convincingly. Kutcher and Murphy never look comfortable playing these characters or falling through bedroom walls.

Continuing the eighties theme, the set-up is straight out of Bachelor Party. Tom Leezak (Kutcher) is your average blue collar American slob whose life revolves around sports. Sarah McNerney (Murphy) is the youngest daughter of a Beverly Hills millionaire, has lived a life of privilege and is expected to marry the rich bore (Christian Kane) who's been courting her. They meet at the beach after he knocks her out with a football, it's love at first sight and after a whirlwind romance they're married, despite the disapproval of her family and her jealous suitor. It's only on their honeymoon, touring France, Switzerland and Italy in the world's tiniest rental car, that everything starts to go sour.

Murphy is a rising star who got her big break in Clueless and has been impressive in films like 8 Mile, Don't Say A Word and Girl, Interrupted but she's completely miscast as a Beverly Hills princess. Sarah looks more out of place among her rich family than Tom does. Kutcher is best known for the sadly unappreciated Dude, Where's My Car?, where he and Seann William Scott made a funny pair of slackers. Cast as a square-jawed jock, he's just another bland pretty boy. The two leads seem to be enjoying themselves but they're so wrong for the roles that it undermines the comedy. Kutcher's Yank-abroad boorishness is as unconvincing as Murphy's Ivy League prissiness. Neither seems daft enough to be taken in by the plot's silly misunderstandings. I swear I caught Murphy trying to suppress laughter during one dim-witted argument.

The supporting cast are underused. As Sarah's parents, David Rasche and Veronica Cartwright are perfect casting but they have brief, one-note roles. Even the great George Gaynes, who tried to stick his tongue down Dustin Hoffman's throat in Tootsie and got the world's funniest blow job in Police Academy, is practically used as an extra. The only memorable supporting character is played by Valeria: a lusty, busty blonde who tries to get Tom to break his marriage vows.

You could guess that would happen, just like you'd guess the slimy rich guy would show up in Europe to try and steal Sarah. Just Married is predictable as hell and it falls short of its potential, yet it's not quite a dead loss. An old-fashioned knockabout farce has a nostalgic appeal even when it's not done all that well. If you lower your expectations, it's pacy and amusing enough to pass the time. In the ranking of this year's date movies, it's slightly above Maid In Manhattan but a good way below Two Weeks Notice. That makes it just about worth taking a date to, as long as you're guaranteed a snog.

Overall

5

out of 10

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