“Cockroach!” cries out Brittany Murphy alongside co-star Ashton Kutcher in “Just Married.” Lying in bed in a cheap motel in Venice, Italy, the two try and grab some sleep while on their honeymoon. The film begins, however, in media res: the newlyweds feuding all throughout the trip and then at the airport back home upon their return from what can only be dubbed “the honeymoon from hell.”
“Just Married,” unlike the story it tells, is not hell and contains some of the best on-screen chemistry in a romantic comedy seen for quite some time. Conceivably the most important attribute for a romantic comedy, Kutcher and Murphy’s performances foster a relationship that is both endearing and entertaining.
Kutcher plays Tom Leezak, an aspiring radio personality with a love for America and sports. While playing football on the beach, he meets Sarah McNerney (Murphy), who comes from money and high society. Moving from the beach to the bar to a passionate tryst, the two find themselves deeply in love with one another and decide to get married despite their youth and conflicting worlds. Their love is true, but each has a lie in their past that will inevitably come back to test the strength of their bond.
The “third wheel” figure in this film is played by Peter Prentis (Christian Kane, “EdTV”), the secret Sarah keeps locked away. Peter arrives in Venice just in time to really stir up the heat, and his wooing of Sarah on her own honeymoon is countered with Tom’s naivety in taking a girl back to his suite. The only lag in the film is contained in these parallel, “cheating” scenes. While somewhat necessary for plot, the film spends too much time developing this bomb that, unfortunately, slows down the pace of the story.
This film is not the stereotypical “teen sex romp” its trailer makes it out to be. “Just Married” stays on the cusp of copulation without consummation, and this is what adds to some memorable scenes, such as in an airplane lavatory and in a Euro-compact car embedded in snow.
Kutcher and Murphy have an engaging quality about them. Kutcher retains some of the amusing qualities from his former role in “Dude, Where’s My Car?” and Murphy still has some of the likable spunk she conveyed in “Clueless.”