SPREAD

3 Stars
Year Released: 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 97 minutes
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Nikki (Kutcher) doesn’t have a job. He doesn’t have a car. He doesn’t even have a place to live. As it turns out, he doesn’t need any of that stuff because rich, older ladies are more than willing to give him money, drive him around, and let him stay at their place. I’m not talking grandmothers here. Nikki goes home with attractive 40-somethings who have lucrative careers and the bank accounts that usually accompany them. Samantha (Heche) is one of these women. A corporate lawyer with a 5 million dollar home, this blonde-haired success story falls to the charms of this smooth talking, good looking, hustler.

Watching Ashton Kutcher and Anne Heche screw in a vivid cornucopia of sex positions is an interesting way to spend an evening. Just when you think you’ve seen Heche’s bare chest for the last time, Mackenzie’s (2003’s “Young Adam”) camera cuts to yet another adults-only session between the lawyer and her man-whore. To make it clear, what these two have between them is a business deal.

Also, it may have started out with him attempting to pull off a con but the power shifts rapidly into her favor. This is where the film holds its strengths. “Spread” focuses on a womanizer realizing that he’s actually the one being played. His options are a lot more limited than his youthful, dream-in-my-heart-and-a-dollar-in-my-pocket former self had thought.

The opening voiceover explains that Nikki moved to Los Angeles to do nothing more than lay on his back and live off the kindness of strangers (and they are strangers). The aging stud mentors the audience in his strategies for getting women, lays out his game plan, and even teaches them the patented moves. It’s clear this guy knows what he’s doing. It’s also clear that this is about all he knows how to do. The trouble with empty, vapid characters is that there’s not a lot for the viewer to invest in. It’s hard to feel bad for a guy who lives off his looks, has sex with women solely based on their house’s blueprint, and can’t carry on a real conversation to save his life. When his looks fade and his money dries up, I’ll bet he’ll wish he got his MA in Cinema Studies. It’s hard to feel for Nikki but that’s exactly what Mackenzie asks the viewer to do, especially in scenes involving crappy hotel rooms and teardrops.

“Spread’s” strengths are in the story, the synopsis, but not in the script. Kutcher gives a surprisingly proficient performance as does Heche who is the shining star of the film. Unfortunately, she exits the narrative after the first act and the film suffers immediately afterwards. Nikki leaves Samantha’s house after he falls for Heather (Levieva), a hard-to-get waitress who turns out to have more in common with Nikki than would at first appear—in short, she’s a whore too. Then the whores fall for each other and the second and third acts center around the love-triangle…actually it’s more like a love/money/lust/survival pentagon between these two insipid gold-diggers and their respective Johns.

Their “romance” fails to earn the screen time it receives. It’s uninteresting, goes on for far too long, and eventually ends predictably. In the end, some lessons are learned, some wrongs are righted, and no one leaves the theater devising their plan on how to make it as a high-class hussy—most likely because it seems too boring a profession.



Posted on January 27, 2009 in Reviews by
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