Just Married

A Film Review By Michael Haley

Rating:PG-13 for some raunchy humor, language, and the usual.
Starring: Ashton Kuchter, Brittany Murphy, Christian Kane, Veronica Cartwright.
Directed By:Shawn Levy.

Final Grade:

As Roger Ebert once said, the best way to put a bad movie into prospective is to watch a good one. Not long after viewing this film, I viewed the vastly superior About Schmidt and now feel I have a better understanding of Just Married. My first impression after watching Just Married was that it sucked, but after watching the other film, I have now drawn the conclusion that it really sucks, and is not only a waste of time but a flat out disgrace to everyone, regardless of whether you’re a film buff or just a casual movie goer.

Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy star as the newly weds in question, and we’re first introduced to them on their way home from a honeymoon in Europe. Something must have gone horribly wrong, as they dart scornful glances at each other, try tripping the other, throw gum each other’s hair, and so forth. Kutcher than has a near meltdown on the radio station he works at, and goes off on a diatribe about his disastrous marriage, the promise it once had, and so forth. We then flashback to the past, where the two kids have a meet cute and fall head over heels in love. They quickly get married, which gives Kutcher the right to call her mom “pussy” without fear of recourse. They go to France for their honeymoon, and all sorts of crazy stuff happens to them…they get stuck in snow, cause destruction to an expensive hotel, and other stuff that more than likely wouldn’t happen in real life. Than old secrets come back to haunt the couple, a series of misunderstandings occur, and their marriage is quickly put to the test. Will they call it quits after a few days or will they work it out? I’ll leave the answer for you to find out if you choose to see the film.

Personally, I didn’t give a damn about their problems and kept looking at my watch to see how many minutes had passed since I last checked it. That alone provided me with more entertainment than anything the movie had to offer. To be fair, I was feeling a little sick when watching the flick so that might have influenced my opinion, but I highly doubt it because I was much sicker the first time I watched Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and I thought that was a masterpiece.

A masterpiece this isn’t, the film is a comedic black hole that sucks all worthwhile humor into its grasp. Although the characters are young and hip (I suppose), I still couldn’t relate to anything or anyone during the film. Kutcher’s character is remarkably stupid, and the insults he unleashes at times sounds like a retarded five year old’s attempts at ridicule. His intelligence makes his Dude, Where’s My Car? character look like a sage of high intellect. Brittany Murphy, as Sarah, is slightly more suited for a film of this caliber (and I mean that with the lowest amount of respect possible), although a weird paradox arises with her. She’s intended to be the free spirited, life-loving center of the film, yet I never once got the impression that Sarah was that person. Instead, I felt the screenwriter and director’s insistent pushing of the plot where character development was needed (and don’t say that this is a dumb comedy that doesn’t warrant character development, as I’ll explain momentarily).

True comedy, or just something that’s funny, takes some element of truth for it to work. Since the characters feel like nothing more than pawns in the screenwriter’s plot chess game, we never get to experience them as people with ideas and feelings, and therefore it is the concept that must be hilarious if the movie is to work. The concept—a crazy honeymoon—is not funny, and has been done before ad naeseum. Because there was nothing inherently funny about the concept, there was nothing inherently funny about the film. Think about it…which one do you find funnier? The guy who falls down just because, or the guy who falls down on purpose because he is trying to illicit sympathy from the girl he’s trying to pick up, who doesn’t notice because she’s with her evil bastard boyfriend? It doesn’t matter which one you picked…as long as you didn’t find the first humorous, than you won’t find anything worthwhile in this film.

Dumb situations aside, the second character observation is more crucial to the film but was apparently overlooked in its construction, and that is the blatantly dark, psychotic nature of these people. The film presents these guys as warm, likable, goofy even, but get themselves into all sorts of crazy predicaments. However, I had a hard time buying that description whenever Kutcher would threaten Sarah’s old boyfriend with a fire poker, Sarah try to trip him up in areas that would cause great bodily harm, and so forth. I’m not against such deviant behavior, and feel that with the appropriate artistic context, it should be championed. In this case, though, the filmmakers want us to love these characters so we will laugh with them, not at them, and want their marriage to work. I not only did not want their marriage to work, but also saw divorce as the only workable (and safe) option this couple had. The film overlooks the fact that they are not only psychotic but dangerous people, and had the film acknowledged that and went with it, we could have had an interesting story. The humor might have been dark but that’s okay; who says everything should be sunshine and roses? Here, we have a dark comedy masquerading as a light one, that unfortunately doesn’t work as either.

Say for a moment you don’t care about any of that, and just want to be entertained. If that’s the case, the film still won’t do anything for you. All of the remotely funny moments were used (and better, might I add) in the trailer for the flick, and what’s left over is ho-hum and mediocre at best. There are a few moments where we get the hint that goodness might be around the corner, but nothing ever develops. As a date movie that it’s being advertised as, it is too poorly made to arise any emotion or generate any laughter.

And than there’s About Schmidt, which put all of this into prospective for me. After watching that, not only was I filled with a better sense of how not only drama but uproarious comedy can be achieved, but of how truly awful Just Married is. I realize now that I can give Just Married a failing grade and not feel bad about it, because with over one hundred of years of film comedy at our fingertips, the makers of this film could have and should have aimed for something much better, or failing that, something funny.

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