There’s a reason that they call comedies like this one “sophomoric.” It is because they are designed to appeal to high school sophomores who are just beginning to go out on dates. For the girls, there is a happy-ever-after love story with a wedding and it is even emphasized throughout the movie that the couple is very young, which makes it even more romantic – if you are very young yourself. For the guys, there is that hit-on-the-head-style comedy of excruciation, with jokes on such always-reliable topics as a rich lady named Pussy, huge, electrical marital aids, body cavity searches, getting hit on the nose, getting hit on the head, and getting hit on the head again.
Brittany Murphy plays Sarah, the daughter of a wealthy family, who wants a relationship where she won’t always know what is going to happen next. Ashton Kutcher plays Tom, a community college graduate who wants to be a sportscaster but is currently the substitute late-night traffic announcer on a radio station. They met when he (just try to guess) beans her with a football pass as she is walking her dog on the beach. A month later, they are living together, and nine months after that, they get married.
Then they go on a honeymoon that is one disaster after another. She gets a bloody nose on their wedding night. They arrive at a dream honeymoon castle, but get kicked out after frying the hotel’s entire electrical system by trying to plug in a marital aid. They end up having to sleep their car after it gets stuck in a snow bank, and then in a decrepit little hotel in Venice. They have the three most popular marital arguments: sex, money, and in-laws. They hurt each other’s feelings. And they each worry about a past lie. Sarah never told Tom that she had sex with the guy her parents wanted her to marry. And Tom never told Sarah that he was indirectly responsible for her dog’s death. These revelations will come at a bad moment, just as each suspects the other of cheating. Tom and Sarah have to learn to trust each other and to trust themselves.
Murphy and Kutcher are cute together. They became a real-life couple while making this movie and their chemistry comes across on the screen. But the movie relies too much on Murphy’s twinkly laugh and Kutcher’s goofy grin to cover up the tired jokes. Tom and Sarah are immature and annoying. At one point, in a crowded plane, they announce that they aren’t talking to each other any more and the other passengers applaud. The audience felt the same way.
Parents should know that this is a PG-13 that keeps just a millimeter away from an R. There is no nudity but there are frequent sexual references and situations, some graphic, and some raunchy, including an attempted sexual encounter in an airplane bathroom and overheard sex in the next room. The same material in a drama would have earned an R rating. Characters drink a lot, often to help themselves feel better when they are upset. A character refers to regrets about having sex with someone after drinking too much champagne. There is strong language (and much attempted humor from the name “Pussy”).
Families who see this movie should talk about how people in any kind of relationship, but especially any kind of family relationship, have to learn how to communicate honestly and how to cope with catastrophe without blaming each other. What clues do you see to the strengths and weaknesses of the relationship that Sarah and Tom have? They have different backgrounds and interests, but they have some very important things in common – what are they? An issue in any romantic relationship is how much of yourself you have to give up for the other person. Where do you see Tom and Sarah deal with that issue? The idea for this movie came from the screenwriter’s own honeymoon catastrophes. What events in your life could make a good movie?
Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy Kutcher in “Dude Where’s My Car?” A little-known gem about a couple’s first days of marriage after an impulsive wedding is “Period of Adjustment,” the only comedy written by Tennessee Williams, starring Jane Fonda and Jim Hutton.