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'Just Married'

'Just Married,' just cute

Friday, January 10, 2003

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The romantic comedy "Just Married" was inspired by screenwriter Sam Harper's less-than-idyllic honeymoon in Italy 15 years ago. But I would bet his wife didn't tell the customs officials that he was hiding hashish in his rectum. You can guess what happens then -- mercifully off camera.

 
 
'Just Married'

RATING: PG-13 for sexual content, some crude humor and brief drug reference

STARRING: Brittany Murphy, Ashton Kutcher

DIRECTOR: Shawn Levy

WEB SITE: www.justmarriedmovie.com

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"Just Married" opens with newlyweds Tom and Sarah Leezak (Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy) returning from a European honeymoon cut from the Chevy Chase cloth. In other words, things go from bad -- the bride's nosebleed and exhaustion on her wedding night -- to worse.

Most of the movie is told in one long flashback, starting with a meet-cute on the beach and instant relationship. She has a rich daddy, lives in Beverly Hills and works as a go-fer for Sotheby's, and he is a sports nut who works as a fill-in traffic reporter on a radio station. But, despite most of her family's clear disapproval, they marry and head to Europe for what they hope will be a storybook trip.

It proves to be anything but, from an electrical outlet mishap at a five-star French hotel to the sudden arrival of an ex-boyfriend of Sarah's. Mistakes and misunderstandings and culture clashes pile up until their marriage looks like it will be over before it's a month old. But since this is a romantic comedy, you can assume that's not going to happen.

"Just Married," directed by Shawn Levy ("Big Fat Liar"), might be intolerable without its leading actors who make a cute couple on screen and off. Their attraction and affection is evident, which isn't something you can say about many comedic couples.

Kutcher is best known for "That '70s Show" and "Dude, Where's My Car?" and while he's not stepping far from his comfort zone, you can't help but sympathize with his plight. His character is generally not mean-spirited, just clueless.

Murphy, on the other hand, is a far more versatile performer who recently starred opposite Eminem in "8 Mile" and appeared in "Don't Say a Word," the Michael Douglas movie that was the No. 1 VHS rental of 2002. She's a strong dramatic actress but slips into a comfortable comic rhythm.

"Just Married" is designed to make its intended teen or young adult audience giggle or snicker, as when Sarah's mother is introduced by her nickname of Pussy. A subplot about Tom's blue-collar background gets short shrift -- as if scenes were filmed but cut -- and in the end, you're left with the impression that Tom and Sarah didn't necessarily marry the wrong people. They're too young and immature to be married at all.


Barbara Vancheri can be reached at bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632.

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