A newly married couple goes on the ''honeymoon from hell''--as they like to put it--and lucky us, we get to go with them.
Any marriage is going to have its ups and downs. But what if those ''downs'' start happening the minute you step off the altar? Such is the premise of Just Married as blue-collar radio traffic announcer Tom Leezak (Ashton Kutcher) meets rich, free-spirited writer Sarah McNerney (Brittany Murphy), and after a whirlwind romance, they decide to get hitched. Oh, if it could be that easy. Their course to true love has several strikes against it, and the rest of the movie is spent figuring out if they are going to make it or not. Strike No. 1: Sarah's well-to-do parents (whose nicknames for each other range from ''Pee-Wee'' to ''Pussy'') are completely appalled she's marrying ''beneath her.'' Strike No. 2: Sarah's sophisticated, rich ex-boyfriend Peter (Christian Kane), the one Daddy McNerney (David Rasche) favors, wants Sarah back. Strike No. 3: after they get hitched anyway, the two young marrieds' honeymoon in Italy quickly turns horrific. In fact, it's so unbelievably awful--from their small yellow box posing as a rental car being pushed off a mountain cliff to the cockroaches crawling over them as they try to make love in a run-down Venice shack to said ex-boyfriend showing up to thwart all that is good--your only hope is that they don't kill each other before they can get the sucker annulled. Of course, we don't really believe they'll break up, do we? We know better. With any good, old-fashioned romantic comedy, the power of love wins out. Blech.
It's not easy being relatively new faces in the film business and having a major feature film rest on your shoulders. Yet, Kutcher and Murphy do their best with a formulaic script and some painful-looking physical comedy added in for good measure. It's evident the two click (so much so, they became a real-life couple), so it's nice to wholeheartedly believe they are mad for one another. Their youthful appeal is about the only thing that saves the film from total drudge, to be honest. Individually, Kutcher gets to venture off from the one-note, innocuously stupid guy he's played in movies such as Dude, Where's My Car? and Fox's That '70s Show, just a little, to show some heartfelt moments, especially when telling his new bride how much he loves her. To his credit, he doesn't fail miserably at it. On the other hand, Murphy, who has the acting chops, having handled meaty roles in dramas (Girl, Interrupted) as well as comedies (Clueless), has nothing whatsoever to go on as Sarah. Clearly she must've been listening when her agent said, ''Do this movie! It'll be great for your career!'' The rest of the cast blends in, with Rasche being the only standout as Sarah's no-nonsense, all-business millionaire dad.
You might feel sorry for this movie, being released the second week of January just after an enormous onslaught of Oscar-touted films, if it wasn't for the fact that 20th Century Fox obviously timed it to capitalize on the youth audience in a field of so-called ''boring old people movies.'' Just Married is just the ticket for young people. Kutcher has developed a following after the surprising hit movie Dude, Where's My Car? and Murphy just made a splash with Eminem in 8 Mile. The film has the age group 16-24 written all over it. But come on, folks, even good intentions to capture a certain market can't make up for a downright silly movie. Director Shawn Levy, whose credits include 'tween flick Big Fat Liar and Disney Channel's The Famous Jett Jackson, handles Just Married pretty much like his previous--broad and wacky, with very little substance. The best part of the movie is the very beginning, when the two newlyweds walk off the plane fuming and one-upping each other. Ah, married life. The irony is duly noted but then the film goes straight into a flashback sequence, lapsing periodically between pratfalls, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, and gushy professions of love. Chalk it up to bad judgment.
At first, Just Married may appeal to the younger generation, but there's very little chance this slapstick comedy is going to maintain any lasting momentum.