2003, PG-13, 94 min. Directed by Shawn Levy. Starring Ashton Kutcher, Brittany Murphy, Christian Kane, David Moscow.
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Jan. 10, 2003
Newlyweds Tom (Kutcher) and Sara (Murphy) disembark a plane in L.A., home from their honeymoon in Europe. Tom elbows his new wife into a steaming cup of coffee. Sara sends her husband flying down an escalator. The honeymoon, clearly, is over. After this punchy, pratfall-laden opener, Just Married lags, backpedaling awkwardly to fill in exposition. Tom, a wannabe talk-radio sports personality (he treads water with the 3am traffic report instead), describes the couple's idyllic beginnings on-air. Distraught, he wants to know how this could have happened. Despite their differences -- he's a jock with humble community-college roots; she's a Wellesley-educated Beverly Hills brat -- the two seemed so perfect. How could they have become so undone? Therein lies the fun of Just Married, in the cataloging of the many tiny disasters that rotted the marriage in record time: car problems, hotel problems, ex-boyfriend-crashing-the-honeymoon problems, the like. As the saying goes, one man's failed marriage is another man's big belly laugh, and Just Married supplies a respectable number of said gut-crunchers. Frankly, it's a bit of a surprise. Consider the pedigree of some of the key players here: Director Shawn Levy's last film was the Frankie Muniz stinker Big Fat Liar; writer Sam Harper's only other credit is the paint-by-numbers Rookie of the Year; and star Kutcher's most notable performance so far (save for his long-running role as Kelso on Fox's That 70s Show) includes the word "Dude" in its title. This is qualified praise, to be sure, but it could have been so much worse. Instead, it's really not bad at all. That's mostly due to Kutcher, who has erased most traces of Dude from his portrayal of the lunkheaded but earnest Tom. Though the usually very good Murphy stumbles here (straining too obviously for cute in her first romantic-comedy leading role), together Murphy and Kutcher have a blast with the almost-nonstop physical gags. (And for once a film manages not to blow its entire wad in the trailer -- there's much more to be had here than that roach crawling across Kutcher's neck.) Overall, Just Married doesn't really take -- it has a shelf life about as short as the disastrous honeymoon -- but in the moment, it's cute, if corny. It'll do.