|January 10, 2003|
|20th Century Fox|
Rated PG-13 For Sexual Content, Some Crude Humor and A Brief Drug Reference
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 true love and love at first sight, 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 be sent through the ringer. You know when Tom wants to watch baseball in Europe instead of seeing the gorgeous cathedrals with his newly wedded wife, there will be friction.
Brittany Murphy reaches the peak of her beauty and her 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. Yes, this is a comedy, but Kutcher proves from this film on 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 personal favorite film, 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 a majority of his films including the recent Date Night. Both films lacked maturity that is needed to not feel like one 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 a 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, until they are tragically beaten into submission. The name “the Ben Stiller Effect” derives from a majority of Stiller’s films (Meet The Parents, Duplex, and Heartbreak Kid, just to name the bare minimum) where he plays the underdog that can never catch a break. These films can normally 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 big 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 the love with the relationship and there 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.