Just Married barely has a plot. Instead, it has a skeletal framework designed to support a few jokes about marriage and travel. Nevertheless, it meets its humble aspirations, and exceeds my (very low) expectations.
PG-13 for sex, crude humor
Just Married presents a worst-case honeymoon scenario. Sarah and Tom (Brittany Murphy and Ashton Kutcher) are newlyweds. She’s the youngest daughter of a wealthy snob, he’s a sports-aholoic slob, and they love each other very much.
Their honeymoon takes them to the French Alps, Germany, and Venice. They’ve planned the perfect honeymoon, but reality doesn’t live up to their dreams. Everything that can go wrong, does.
First, they try to join the “mile high club,” but the realities of making love in an airplane’s toilet overwhelm their romantic notions. Then his driving and her navigation lead to a bickering fight. Their romantic stay in a French castle is ruined when their sex toy shorts out the hotel’s wiring.
Venice 1, Newlyweds 0
After losing their rental car over a ravine, they travel to a Venetian flophouse that’s supposed to be quaint. They expected piazzas and views, not quarter-inch walls and three-inch cockroaches. At least they’re in it together, right?
But Venice proves to be too much for their relationship. Sarah’s ex-boyfriend Peter “happens” to show up at the same hotel (after they move out of the Cockroach Palace). Sports-starved Tom finds an American bar with a Dodgers game, leaving Sarah to see the sights by herself.
Peter starts flirting with Sarah, who had been alone in the museums, while a slutty barfly starts making a pass at Tom. Although they each manage to remain faithful, their mutual jealousy ends their honeymoon and dooms their marriage. Dooms it until the happy Hollywood ending fifteen minutes later.
Laugh it off
Just Married is not much of a film. The plot is merely an excuse for the jokes. Given that meager foundation, the movie is moderately successful, at least on its own terms.
There are a lot of jokes, and many of them are funny. The best of these are the visual gags, like their sub-subcompact rental car, or the just-barely-plausibly large cockroaches in the hotel. The worst jokes are just crude, like the farting concierge, or the sex toy fiasco.
But even these unpleasant moments are mitigated when Sarah and Tom laugh together at their fate. Their laughter humanizes the situations. We’re no longer laughing at the crude humor of the screenwriter Sam Harper, but at the story Tom and Sarah will be able to tell their kids.
Then again, Tom and Sara are sometimes themselves the butt of Harper’s jokes. When they bicker and give in to jealousy, it is neither funny nor charming, and it spoils any sweetness the movie might have earned.
To be honest, Just Married exceeded my expectations, if only because I know that January is the dumping ground for the studio’s B-list movies. Mind you, that’s still not a recommendation, particularly with December’s great releases (e.g., The Pianist, Chicago, Adaptation) starting to show up outside of New York and Los Angeles. Still, for a post-holiday season B-movie, Just Married could have been worse.