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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Just Married
Just Married
Fox // PG-13 // June 17, 2003
List Price: $27.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted May 26, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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Just Married stars those "Teen People" cover mainstays, Ashton Kutcher (Texas Rangers) and Brittany Murphy (Summer Catch). The omnipresent Ashton is Tom Leezak, a blue-collar sports nut who rattles off traffic information on the radio in the wee hours of the morning. Fate, or at least the screenplay by Rookie of the Year scribe Sam Harper, ensnares him in the arms of Sarah McNerney (Murphy). Sarah is the daughter of an indescribably wealthy sports mogul, shunning the affections of her ambitious former fling Peter Prentiss (Christian Kane) in favor of her new broke beau. Sarah and Tom get married, no doubt playing some small role in inspiring the movie's title.

As Just Married kicks off, the Leezaks (no, not the villains from Dr. Who) are at war at a non-descript airport, chucking luggage carts and half-chewed pieces of gum at one another, like an intergender Odd Couple with even more cleavage. "But wait, " you ask, with a disturbing amount of concern in your voice. "They look so happy on the cover art." Worry not, gentle viewer. Tom spins the sad, sweeping tale of his failed romance at the radio station. Following a whirlwind courtship, the too-cute couple decide to spend their honeymoon trekking across Europe. As the unavoidable trailers and TV spots made all too clear, their trip consists of one hee-sterical catastrophe after another, from dildo-inspired electrical mishaps to cockroach infestation to the all-too-painful realization that mere infatuation isn't a strong enough foundation for a relationship. The fledgling marriage quickly crumbles like the walls of one of their cruddy hotel rooms, but since romantic comedies aren't allowed to end on a downbeat note, anyone who's watched any movie ever ought to know how Just Married is going to end.

Just Married was savaged pretty ruthlessly by critics upon its release this past January, netting a dismal 19% rating at composite review site Rotten Tomatoes. Just Married didn't inspire that kind of vitriol to flow from my keyboard, falling squarely in the territory of near-total indifference as a romantic comedy without much of either. None of the jokes left me recoiling in horror, but at the same time, there wasn't an audible laugh for the entire length of the movie. The more romantic aspects cling tightly to convention, following the usual progression of meet-cute, total adoration, and the inevitable falling-out, followed by the climactic rediscovery of our lovers' feelings for one another. The material is instantly forgettable, but leads Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy somehow manage to wade through it. I'm not a particularly rabid fan of either actor and this movie did nothing to change my opinion one way or the other, but I'm certain that I wouldn't have enjoyed Just Married to whatever meager extent I did if anyone else had been cast in the lead roles. The supporting cast also warrants a mention, particularly the turns by Angel's Christian Kane as well as Sledge Hammer! himself, David Rasche.

Though I found Just Married to overall be rather mediocre, it pulled in enough cash at the box office to warrant a reasonably nice release on DVD, including a great audio commentary and a spiffy 16x9-enhanced presentation.

Video: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation of Just Married is pretty typical of a recent theatrical release from a major studio, a roundabout way of saying it looks great. The image is razor-sharp and richly detailed, boasting deep blacks and a stunningly vibrant palette. The film infrequently took on a slightly soft or noisy appearance, though this seemed to be more of an issue with photography than anything specific to the transfer. Neither are particularly intrusive or distracting. As is to be expected from a movie so quickly coming out of theaters, the source material is in immaculate condition, and the presentation is free of any nicks or speckling. Very nicely done.

The flip-side of the disc includes a full-frame version of the film. Feel free to insert the snide remark of your choice about modified aspect ratios here.

Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is a fairly typical comedy mix. Though there a handful of stereo effects, most notably Tom careening around the McNerney's driveway in the early moments of the film, the bulk of the action is anchored front and center. The surrounds most noticeably come into play to reinforce the music spread throughout the film as well as the score by Buffy the Vampire Slayer composer Christophe Beck. Various bits of music are also responsible for much of the activity in the lower frequencies, sounding crisp and full throughout. Dialogue, the emphasis of the soundtrack, remains clear and discernable as well.

Among Just Married's other audio options are Dolby stereo surround dubs in French and Spanish, subtitles in Spanish and English, and closed captions.

Supplements: Director Shawn Levy and stars Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy provide the disc's audio commentary. It's mentioned at one point that Kutcher and Levy spent an afternoon listening to the commentary on the Say Anything DVD, and they seem to have picked up on some of Crowe and company's better habits. Although I wasn't really all that into Just Married as a movie, I really enjoyed its audio commentary. It's a blast from start to finish, equal parts informative and entertaining. Topics of discussion are as varied as the numerous retakes that resulted from a "dong [that] kept slipping out" in a bedroom scene, shooting almost the entire movie at night to accomodate Ashton's That '70s Show schedule, Christian Kane's insistence on being referred to as "The Kid", the 'bigger' endings tossed around (including, yes, the clich├ęd confession of love at an airport), to Ashton wearing a knee brace for the entire length of the shoot as a character trait. Levy, providing his first feature-film commentary, delves into the technical end of things as well, discussing the specific lenses and assorted equipment used to accomplish particular shots, as well as his energy-driven approach to filmmaking. The three of them aren't hesitant to nitpick their least favorite parts of the movie, from lines that didn't really work to Ashton's more "over the top Tom Hanks" moments. Definitely worth checking out.

There are also four deleted scenes, presented as rough letterboxed footage with optional audio commentary by Shawn Levy. Both "The Wedding Tape" and "The Camping Trip" are extended scenes, the first picking up six minutes or so into the film with Tom's discovery of a wedding tape after the relationship had crumbled. "The Camping Trip" is a 'falling in love' montage, including, as the title so subtly suggests, a camping trip. "Hello Tom, Hello Father" features an interrupted bath, and "I Can't Settle for Anything Less" is a heartfelt conversation between Sarah and Peter. Though most of the deleted scenes commentaries I've been subjected to are pretty dry and offer little more than "these were cut for pacing", Levy's comments are much more thoughtful and detailed.

The disc's insubstantial "Making of" featurette is little more than several minutes of clips from the film interspersed with brief comments from the talent involved. It's very promotional in nature and offers little of interest to anyone who's actually watched the movie. Rounding out the extras on the widescreen side of the disc are trailers for Just Married, Le Divorce, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

The flipside of the disc features a twenty-minute "Reel Comedy" segment from Comedy Central. Hosted by flamboyent comedian Mario Cantone, the special was taped in a honeymoon suite, where Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy duke it out in a Newlywed Game-inspired match, in between the obligatory plugs for Just Married. Like the movie, I'm pretty indifferent towards the "Reel Comedy" bit. It's not particularly funny, but it's not quite dull enough to have left my thumb massaging the 'Stop' button on my DVD remote.

Just Married includes a set of 16x9 enhanced menus, and the movie has been divided into twenty-eight chapter stops.

Conclusion: Viewers who caught Just Married theatrically and happily contributed to its respectable $56 million domestic box office gross will probably enjoy its release on DVD. There aren't enough laughs to warrant a recommendation for a purchase sight-unseen, but fans of the talent involved may still find Just Married worth a rental. Rent It.
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