Review: Captured by the game

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 13, 2009 - 6:05 PM

Ashton Kutcher is a Hollywood hustler whose scam -- and charm -- unravels in "Spread."

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Ashton Kutcher stars in the movie "Spread."

It's hard to know where to begin on how awful this is. "Spread" is a love letter to Ashton Kutcher produced by and starring Ashton Kutcher. He plays a homeless Hollywood hustler who seduces rich older women, providing cougars with sexual entertainment in exchange for an A-list lifestyle. Let's hold the "is this a documentary" jokes: too easy.

In exchange for lodgings in milady's posh digs (the "Spread" of the title -- I think) Kutcher vigorously bounces on his co-stars; a couple of scenes with lonely old maid Anne Heche are filmed like how-to-unclog-a-drain videos. Kutcher keeps his heart in cold storage, however. His relationship-maintenance regime is a cynical litany of bouquets (ordered with her credit card) and inexpert home-cooked dinners (it shows you're moving outside your comfort zone to please her).

The film aims to be moody and serious about lack of intimacy and commitment, but the tone is more "Deuce Bigalow" than "Shampoo." The film is well-photographed, bearing a surface resemblance to "American Gigolo," but that's hardly enough to carry a movie in which the acting ranges from mediocre to wooden. Kutcher's expression is locked on bad-boy smug, and his how-to-hustle narration seems to be composed of Tweets. If there was an idea that took more than 140 characters to express, I missed it.

Over a coffee-shop breakfast, Kutcher falls for pretty waitress Margarita Levieva ("Adventureland"), who sees through his guff. She appears to be as open and innocent as he is vain and ambitious, but life in L.A. is rarely so straightforward. When Kutcher begins double-timing his main squeeze, complications multiply, fortunes reverse and kindergarten-level life lessons are learned. Let me offer a lesson of my own. The tagline "Ashton Kutcher and Anne Heche, starring in..." is fair warning.

Colin Covert • 612-673-7186

  • SPREAD

    ★ out of four stars

    Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language.

    Where: Lagoon.

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