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Just Married

  Just Married
Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy find splendor in the snow.

© 2003, Fox
All Rights Reserved

After a chance meeting on a beach and a brief courtship, rich girl Sarah (Brittany Murphy) and sports-loving radio host Tom (Ashton Kutcher), have decided to get married. Despite loud protests from their friends and family (including an all-grown-up David Moscow, the young Tom Hanks from "Big"), Tom and Sarah tie the knot, and head to Europe for their honeymoon. Beginning as early as the plane ride there, the troubles start to mount up for the couple. As they try to survive tiny Euro cars, an endless parade of hotels, and the arrival of Sarah's ex, the couple learns the true meaning of marriage: They never should've gotten hitched in the first place.

Since there's little to "Just Married" (IMDb listing) beyond the charms of co-stars Brittany Murphy and Ashton Kutcher, it comes as a huge relief that the two young stars work wonderfully together. They share an inviting and sincere chemistry, with director Shawn Levy (the appalling "Big Fat Liar") making shrewd choices by exploiting their sweet interplay in-between scenes of forced madcap slapstick. In fact, the film's finest moments are the ones in which Kutcher and Murphy can play kissyface, and not have to worry about throwing themselves into doors.

Of course, there is fun in that too. Ashton Kutcher has formed his brief career around playing lovable, loudmouthed, all-American guys, and "Just Married" doesn't ask much more of him than to sell that side of his acting abilities. He's admittedly great fun in the role, and shows brief signs in the romantic scenes that there might be more inside. However, if there is only one actor in his mid-20s who can play slow-burn comedy, it's Kutcher. Watching Tom deal with a flock of Euro pigeons, trying to position himself for airplane bathroom sex, or (as we're constantly reminded in the commercials) dealing with a cockroach on his face, Kutcher knows how to dig a laugh out of very little.

On the other end of the spectrum, Brittany Murphy is given less to do comedically, but makes up for it with loads of sweetness. I've always adored Murphy's more volcanically charged acting, but in this mild role, the actress establishes that she can literally play anything to a satisfying conclusion. As she endlessly coos and giggles, Murphy has her fair share of the laughs, but I would've liked to see her raise a little more hell.

As with real life, watching married couples on film just isn't all that fun. For "Just Married," it also sinks the comedy. As Tom and Sarah endlessly bicker over ex-boyfriends, honeymoon lovemaking and hotel accommodations, the picture gets bogged down by the unpleasant nature of the fighting. Writer Sam Harper doesn't insert enough jokes into the quarrelling to lessen the blow, leaving these lethal moments to render the film uneven, and the audience impatient for the picture to return to either sweetness or silliness.

"Just Married" doesn't go outside the parameters of young adult comedies. It's a relatively breezy, sporadically uproarious picture that doesn't tax the mind or the soul.

Filmfodder Grade: B-

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