By AMY NICHOLSON
By ALAN SCHERSTUHL
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By STEPHANIE ZACHAREK
By R. Scott Moxley
The marriage pressure-cooker plots the hackneyed star-brite Brittany Murphy-Ashton Kutcher romantic comedy Just Married, in which we're rushed to the altar soon after our two cuties, Tom and Sarah, shoot pool and trade stats. (He gets her all wrong: "Marketing major. Stanford. Front row?" She coyly sets him straight: "Art history. Wellesley. Back row.")
Her daddy's rich, and her mama's named Pussy. He's a working-class Kelso. But even though they're still young enough to play faux-high-school roles, they just wanna get hitched. We get no Breaking the Waves wedding here—just a Let's-Go-Russian-Ark honeymoon whip through five-star villas Daddy has to spring for after each woeful mishap (wrong plug in Euro socket, rental clown car buried in snow bank, etc.), during which they find out how different they really are, almost cheat, and vow to unvow upon return. Cue up Say Anything . . . ending with final smooches that seem Us Weekly real.
Unlike Reese Wither-your-spoon, stagy Murphy actually does deserve her own Philadelphia Story—or Singin' in the Rain. She's obviously a camp genius (see Clueless, not 8 Mile), but this dopey script, topped with too-pretty Kutcher's rote That 70's Show blowups, ain't it. She may be cute as 50 buttons, but after an hour of her open-mouthed, tongue-in-tooth smile-snort, you start wishing for some good old calamity. (Laura Sinagra)
Best known as co-author of A Chorus Line, the late James Kirkwood was to the movies born—his father directed Mary Pickford; his mother, popular silent star Lila Lee, played opposite Valentino. P.S. Your Cat Is Dead, Kirkwood's 1972 comic novel about a straight man who traps a gay burglar in his house, was a literary hit that appeared in a stage version in 1975, and its belated movie adaptation marks the competent directorial debut of Steve Guttenberg, who also co-scripted and stars as failed actor Jimmy Zoole.
Jimmy's one-man Hamlet stage project was a bust, his girlfriend has walked out on him, and his cat is ailing. On New Year's Eve, he returns home (in contemporary LA, where the setting has been shifted from Kirkwood's early-'70s Manhattan) to find his place being ransacked. His rage at boiling point, he knocks out the intruder and ties him down to the kitchen counter. Overjoyed at the prospect of tormenting someone else for a change, he toys with the thief, a hunky gay Mexican (Lombardo Boyar), and plies him with cat food. They trade insults for a while, but the two men eventually bond through mutual confessions and tales of woe, and the movie ends on a note of odd coupling.
Intermittently engaging and moving, P.S. has gathered a bit of dust over the years. Still, it's nicely acted by the small cast: Guttenberg, a rumpled mess, makes a convincingly frustrated hambone, and Boyar brings a bit of verve to the role of burglar in bondage. Shirley Knight, one of the most gifted actresses of the 1960s (The Group, The Rain People), is not so lucky—wasted in the one-dimensional role of Guttenberg's rich-bitch aunt. (Elliott Stein)
Just Married was directed by Shawn Levy; written by Sam Harper; produced by Robert Simonds, Tracey Trench and Lauren Shuler Donner; and stars Ashton Kutcher, Brittany Murphy, Christian Kane, Taran Killam and Monet Mazur. Now playing countywide; P.S. Your Cat Is Dead was directed by Steve Guttenberg; written by Jeff Korn, Michael Bell II, James Kirkwood and Guttenberg; produced by Christopher Vogler, Kyle Clark and Guttenberg; and stars Guttenberg, Lombardo Boyar, Cynthia Watros, Shirley Knight and A.J. Benza. Now playing at Edwards University, Irvine.
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