SEPTEMBER 21, 2010

Tom accidentally got Sarah’s dog killed. At the dog’s funeral, Sarah asks Tom to be completely honest. Tom lies. From then on, you know this moment will bite him in the ass. Tom and Sarah are an example of young love. Everyone wants to believe in genuine love, so we accept the relationship with open arms, just as they do. If this were to be a boring film, they would fall in love, and everything would work out perfectly. But since this is Hollywood, they need to go through the wringer. There will be friction when Tom wants to watch baseball in Europe instead of seeing the gorgeous cathedrals with his newly wedded wife.

Brittany Murphy reaches the peak of her beauty and comedic best as Sarah. Garbed in leather pants and the hippest trends, Murphy epitomizes sex appeal placed in a tiny little package. Eight years after her “big breakthrough” in “Clueless,” “Just Married,” and the year 2003 marked the exact precipice of Murphy’s career.

The man who made looking dumb look cool in “That 70’s Show” begins his relevancy as a serious actor. It may be a comedy, but Kutcher proves from this film that he will be a big game player. No longer will Kutcher stay stuck in the “Dumb And Dumber” mentality role. Instead, Kutcher opens his future to films like “A Lot Like Love” and my favorite movie, “The Butterfly Effect.”

The film does suffer from the childish feel that belongs in a teen comedy. Most of the blame falls on the director, Scott Levy, who carries this disposition through most of his films, including the recent “Date Night.” Both movies lack the maturity needed to not feel like one of Levy’s children’s films (“Night at the Museum,” “Pink Panther,” and “Cheaper By The Dozen”). With this immaturity comes overacting from the performers and weak, collapsible suspense of disbelief.

Not only does “Just Married” feel like a PG film at times, but it contains the dreaded element I like to refer to as the “underdog pummel” or “the Ben Stiller Effect,” which is the relentlessly knocking down of the characters. The name “the Ben Stiller Effect” derives from a majority of Stiller’s films (“Meet The Parents,” “Duplex,” and “Heartbreak Kid,” to name a few), where he plays the underdog that can never catch a break. These films can typically be overwhelming, offering little or no reward for the audience besides the average cookie-cutter ending.

Despite these faults, “Just Married” comes through with heart and two great performances. Kutcher capitalizes on his bumbling, lovable guy routine while Murphy skirts around in fashion, embodying pure adorability. Most will invest in “Just Married” to test the young love venture, and most will fall in love with the relationship and its constant fluctuations. Had the film gone Rated R, “Just Married” would be an instant classic. Instead, Tom lets Sarah’s dog jump out the lowest windowsill ever contrived and lies to her about it.

January 10, 2003

Shawn Levy

Sam Harper

20th Century Fox

(for sexual content, some crude humor and a brief drug reference)

95 minutes

Jonathan Brown

Christophe Beck

Scott Hill
Don Zimmerman

Ashton Kutcher
Brittany Murphy
Christian Kane
David Moscow
Monet Mazur
David Rasche
Veronica Cartwright
Thad Luckinbill
Taran Killam

Robert Simonds
Lauren Shuler Donner

$18 million

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