No spark in this marriage

Times Staff Writer

"Just Married" is of interest only as a product of such generic blandness as to be absolutely airtight: not a whiff of originality or real life has been allowed to spoil its plastic perfection. Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy are attractive and skilled performers as the film's newlyweds, but the movie is so mechanical it's like watching Barbie and Ken dolls going through the motions.

Writer Sam Harper and director Shawn Levy open with their newlyweds, Tom and Sarah, arriving at LAX after a European honeymoon so disastrous that they are angrily splitting up. Then they flash back to the couple meeting cute at the beach before they really get to know each other. Supposedly not helping matters is that their relationship is a case of rich girl-poor boy. Although Sarah's father is super-rich, and her family lives like royalty on a vast Beverly Hills estate, Tom's comparative poverty is strictly Hollywood style. He may be only a backup late-night radio traffic reporter with ambitions, yet he can afford a trendy loft apartment. (A glimpse of the handsomely appointed interior of Tom's father's residence suggests that his own family seems scarcely hard up.)

That Tom has the emotional maturity of a 4-year-old triggers most of the disasters on their honeymoon in the French Alps and Venice, but the far more game Sarah doesn't always resist sliding into her spoiled Beverly Hills princess mode. In any event, "Just Married" is unrelenting in its tediousness, and its ending is totally predictable. It's like a bright and shiny package tied up neatly with a ribbon, but there's nothing inside it.


'Just Married'

MPAA rating: PG-13, for sexual content, some crude humor and a brief drug reference.

Times guidelines: Some language and sensuality.

Ashton Kutcher...Tom

Brittany Murphy...Sarah

Christian Kane...Peter Prentiss

David Moscow...Kyle

Monet Mazur...Lauren

Twentieth Century Fox presents, in association with Mediastream 1 Productions, a Robert Simonds production, released by Fox. Director Shawn Levy. Producer Robert Simonds. Executive producers Tracey Trench, Josie Rosen, Lauren Shuler Donner. Screenplay by Sam Harper. Cinematographer Jonathan Brown. Editors Don Zimmerman, Scott Hill. Costume designer Debra McGuire. Music Christophe Beck. Production designer Nina Ruscio. Art director Troy Sizemore. Set decorator K.C. Fox. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. In general release.

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