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Ashton Kutcher in Spread (2009) movie image

Ashton Kutcher in Spread (2009).

Movie review – Spread

– by Liz Stanton

Friends, I come bearing tidings of great happiness. Ashton Kutcher, the man famous for tweeting pictures of wife Demi Mooreís ass, has decided to re-enter the world of acting! Fans of Kutcherís That Ď70s Show character Michael Kelso are surely weeping tears of joy.

Those three people aside, donít feel too bad if you havenít heard much about this new movie. Spread, which seems to fancy itself an updated version of American Gigolo in hipster suspenders, is not the kind of movie youíll discuss over Americanos with your film snob friends. It probably wouldnít even come up in a friendly chat about films youíve seen recently with other, less discerning friends. Itís not that Spread is merely forgettable – really, I almost wish that it were. Itís that itís so excruciatingly painful to sit through that if I didnít feel obligated to see the entire film before writing this review, I wouldíve left within the first 30 minutes.

Kutcher stars as Nikki, a morally-challenged grifter who scams his way into the hearts and Hollywood Hills homes of well-to-do women. Nikki explains his modus operandi to the audience by way of a self-aggrandizing voiceover, related in a grating monotone. The plan is simple: dressed in the designer duds purchased by previous lovers, Nikki approaches single women who, though still beautiful, have crossed over to the dark side of 40. Bewitched by this young stud and his carefully plotted 26-point plan (as an example, cooking dinner for the woman earns somewhere in the neighbourhood of six points), somehow the women turn their houses and black AmExs over to Nikki. Once this trust has been earned, Nikki just has to wait for the women to go out of town, so he can throw parties in his benefactorsí homes and fuck women in their 20s on the sly.

Yeah, I know. Itís hardly rocket science. But thereís a twist! Nikki falls for a waitress at a local caf√© (ďDude, I think I like like herĒ is actually a sample line of dialogue), only to find that sheís running the exact same game. Can these two vacuous grifters learn to follow their hearts and put their whoring ways aside? Maybe the real question is, do you even care?

If youíre like half of the audience at the preview screening, you donít. As Kutcher plays him, Nikki is a self-absorbed and entirely unsympathetic person – as multiple other characters point out, he is both boring and shallow. After weíve spent most of the film with a guy this unlike able, how are we supposed to buy or even care about his eventual transformation? Everything about Nikki screams affected: his walk, his talk, his stupid scarves, and especially those goddamn suspenders. When Anne Heche, as one of his lover-cum-sponsors, declares in the face of Nikkiís infidelity that she still loves him, the guy a few seats over muttered an audible, ďWhy?!Ē

All right, Iíve been harsh, so here are a few nice things about Spread: Anne Hecheís body, Anne Hecheís infinity pool, uhmÖ Iím sure Iíll think of more later. Probably not, though. In a few hours, Iím hoping to have forgotten that I ever had to see this movie. If anyone ever tries to tell you that Spread is an intelligent indie commentary about the lost souls in LA or some other claptrap, do me a favour and tell them to shut up already.

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