Sunday, January 3, 2010

Kutcher and Murphy make "Just Married" bearable, just barely

Just Married (2003)
95 min., rated PG-13
Grade: C

Young newlywed couple, a radio traffic forecaster and a well-off princess, has the Honeymoon From Hell when it turns into a disaster of errors in Europe, while the bride’s onetime boyfriend pursues her. Zany hijinks ensue.

This addlebrained, often grating romantic farce is made more bearable (not necessarily meaning "good") than it has any right to be, if only for the timing of its likable young stars. Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy are blessed with a fun, giddy energy and assured chemistry on screen, showing they are more than game to out-argue and out-fight the other.

It's loud and silly with mean slapstick right from the first frame, as we're introduced to the bitter couple doing battle War of the Roses style in an airport: Kutcher bumps Murphy into a steaming cup of joe and then pushes a baggage claim cart into her.

Writer Sam Harper and overbearing helmer Shawn Levy basically think up a number of ways these pratfalling lovebirds can bump into doors and get hit in the face, with each gag setup predictable, strenuous, and reeking of desperation. And who knew aggressive sex could break down a hotel wall?

Granted, this tone-deaf, door-slamming bedroom farce squeaks by with a few cute and stupidly funny moments, but Just Married is just dopey, fast-paced teen fodder.

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