Application # 814.09/AB0.25
Point of Origin Anchor Bay Films
Passage Via Kutcher, Ashton – Heche, Anne
I’ve been asked prior what the parameters are for films selected for this column. I choose those titles which involve stars, an earnest attempt of some sort by the production, and a modicum of effort by the studio to sell the thing. There are countless movies given a handful of screenings which fail, and even more which do not even manage beyond the film festival testing grounds. So I set the limit on a minimum release of 100 screens, which indicates at least some sort of investment by distributers. In looking for an Ashton Kutcher misfire, among his numerous, I noted that this lightly regarded attempt managed to just clear that bar. It also meets another of my requirements; it is unremittingly horrible in content.
Hollywood routinely trots out the character of the gifted lothario, while at the same time overlooking a basic tenant involving wildly successful studs: most people in the audience cannot stand these jackasses. The truth is women are disgusted by these “players” while men do not want the giggalo’s success tossed in their face. Still they get served up on screen on a regular basis.
Ashton Kutcher appears as one such STD-host in “Spread” and his role suffers a bit from comparison. Here he plays a talent-free annoyance with little to offer who preys on older women to support him. In other words, NOTHING at all resembling his former arrangement with Demi. Throughout most of the film Kutcher saunters in without a thing to offer beyond his smug attitude and he just expects lavishness to be tossed his way, as panties are tossed away. The fact that this actually happens, and repeatedly, means you will become challenged to not throw something at the screen very early in this film. And, repeatedly.
VALIDATION FOR PASSAGE
For this excursion into self-aggrandizing shallowness Ashton’s character is named Nikki (short for “Nikon”, maybe?) and he wastes no time at all challenging us not to hate him. In voice over, with the film’s SECOND SENTENCE he states how he is, “An incredibly attractive man.” Soon after he details how he formed his preference in female grooming habits after seeing his mother’s “Giant mound of pubic hair”. Less than four minutes in this movie is basically approaching us with, “Say, Mr. audience member, I dare you to keep watching!”
Nikki walks up to a swank L.A. nightclub – sipping a coffee. Of course. He is on the prowl for a wealthy cougar because he has no home and doesn’t work. He seduces older, rich women and insinuates his way into their lives. Apparently there are these hot-spots in L.A. where multi-millionaire single women frequent and hustler scumbags descend on them, screwing their way into lodging. That means these smart and successful women are not aware of the scam. Or possibly these gals were themselves gold-diggers, got their hooks into a sugar-daddy, divorced them for half of their wealth and this is their way of giving back to the community. Either the case, it sounds tough to open a club and remain viable with that as your target clientele. It takes Nikki no time at all to spot Samantha (Anne Heche) and in minutes they are at her place having their first bout of wild sex that populates the first half of the film.
By morning Samantha wants to leave for work and send her playmate on his way, but then Nikki tells us he employs his patented move – faking sleep with a smile on his face. That’s a “move”, you understand. Women cannot resist this, and they will actually leave credit cards for you to buy sandwiches and invite you to live with them as a result of this “move”. Works every time. Just like that this woman with a heaping net worth turns her keys over to a dim lounge-rat stranger who wears a belt and suspenders. Nikki earns his keep by drilling Heche like pegboard in every room of the house. And the patio. And the pool. Soon she announces she has to take a flight to New York, asking Nikki to join her. He tells her he can’t make it. Bear in mind, he has told her he has no home, no job, no car, and zero prospects — yet he simply cannot squeeze a free vacation into his plans. Rather than using a cattle prod to chase him off her property Samantha allows him bunk in her mansion. One requirement to stay? Going pants-less while wearing an apron.
As soon as she’s gone Nikki holds a raver at the house. His friend Harry comes by and these two are best friends based entirely on the needs of the script writer. As Nikki pawns a drunken guest on his friend he nails a blonde upstairs in Samantha’s bed. The next day a hot brunette stops over and she tells Nikki he’s “a good person” for our benefit, despite being nothing but a repugnant zero. He fucks emotionally damaged rich women for free lodging and sandwiches – what the hell is “good’ exactly? Hell, name one thing about him that approaches “tolerable’. I think this inaccurate measure of his character is due to this woman being a disaster herself; soon Nikki is grinding her doggie-style, but only after shaving her crotch in a tub — probably so as not to resemble his mother.
The next night Samantha comes home early and catches Nikki getting a blow job from yet another girl, while watching a football game — my favorite scene. First, the blonde wears a football helmet while going down on him.
Then, as Nikki is sent downstairs to be lectured the bimbo awkwardly skips by the two of them, clutching the helmet. This means it is her helmet, and she brought it over specifically to wear during sex. I love these people! (And by “love” I mean “despise like the Taliban”.)
Samantha is angry, she swears at him, and says she’s kicking him out – which naturally leads to them having nasty sex on the couch. And the next day he is pumping her from behind. Not a single person in this world is approaching “decent”. Or “human”, for that matter. Next Nikki, in between rounds of screwing Samantha, starts dating a diner worker named Heather. She showed little tolerance for his stupidity, so naturally he becomes attracted. It never occurs to him to wonder why a griddle waitress is driving a Porsche, but this is a guy who was baffled at the concept of buttermilk waffles a couple of days ago. Oh, he has to screw Samantha some more, to keep staying at her place.
From here the film basically wanders off into idiocy. Ever have a selfish friend force you to go to a nightclub which you hate, only to become separated and have them call to say they hooked up with someone, leaving you to catch a cab home? This movie basically does the same thing. “Hey, I’m just going to take off on my own for a while, but why don’t you hit me up later around the end credits, ‘kay?”
First Samantha asks to be taken to the hospital overnight without explanation. Heather stops over that night to screw, and in the morning she admits to having a boyfriend, so Nikki chases her off. I mean, how dare she?! The next day Nikki picks up Samantha and learns she had a vaginal rejuvenation procedure for his benefit. As a result, they stop having sex. (Um, you get the interior of your pink Cadillac completely restored, and all you do is toss a cover over it and lock it in the garage?)
Since he might go a day without meaningless sex Nikki does not return “home” that night, leading to Samantha finally telling him to pound sand. Now understand, the maid has told Samantha about the party (Not cool, Rosalita!) and she has caught him getting sucked off by a cheerleader in her bedroom – all of which was acceptable — but breaking curfew is grounds for dismissal. They argue, she kicks him out, but first she wants to make him an omelet — of course. WHAT?!?! Next Nikki is walking the streets, looking sad because he is homeless. Why he does not just return to his favorite club to find another skank benefactor is never addressed.
Previously Nikki insulted Harry and his frog collection (don’t ask) so now he has to meet him at a strip club and beg him for a place to crash. Harry is there with another guy and Nikki blows his chance because he got in a fight with this guy. This was due to Nikki, who cons rich women with sex-for-lodging-and-clothing-and-sandwiches, getting upset by this guy objectifying strippers. I mean, this film cannot get any more obtuse. Hold on, I meant to say the opposite.
Nikki holes up at a fleabag hotel, and in v.o. drops this nugget of wisdom:
- When I first came here I thought every day was going to be a Van Halen video . . . damn you, Van Halen!
Oh absolutely, blame all your bad decisions and lousy prospects on a rock band that has not produced anything of substance in 20 years. He now goes trolling the pool of a luxury hotel and he earns his next sandwich by sliding his hand into an older woman’s bathing suit right by the diving board. Getting an actual job is simply beyond his ken. Heather just happens to be at this same hotel pool and catches him in the act. But rather than being disgusted by him, or calling security, she is endeared by Nikki’s predilection for public displays of groping. Turns out Heather is something of a sex scammer herself, and with so much in common they fall in love within days and he moves into her apartment.
But one day Heather receives a DHL envelope and it has rose petals inside. She tells Nikki that she loves him but she is also makes a confession. (Are you ready here?) Heather now announces she is engaged — to the owner of the New York Rangers! That’s right. Heather is engaged to the owner of the New York Rangers, all while living in a cramped apartment in L.A., working as a waitress, and running her own sex scams in her spare time. Hearing about the owner of the New York Rangers means Nikki storms out — but I cannot tell if he is madder at Heather, or the script writer. He comes back within thirty minutes but in that time Heather somehow packed up and caught a plane to New York — to hook up with the owner of the New York Rangers.
Now Nikki is in emotional crisis; or as much of an emotional crisis as a brainless pussy-hound can be found. He knocks on the door of another room in the apartment and introduces himself to the girl who lives inside, whom we have never been told exists until now. Nikki basically says “I’m sorta your roommate, can you help me get Heather back?” And get this — she does. Also Harry, the friend Nikki has shit on all movie long, agrees to help. How convenient! Harry forks over money for airfare, and the roommate gives him some type of ring to present to Heather. It is a perfect plan! (Oh how I hate this film.)
Now Nikki is in Times Square, and he enters the building where the owner of the New York Rangers lives and knocks on the door of the owner of the New York Rangers, because the owner of the New York Rangers lives in the only building in Manhattan without a doorman or a security system. Heather is not impressed to see him. She’s naturally intolerant and bitchy towards the guy she pledged her love to less than 12 hours ago. They have a lengthy talk in the kitchen of the owner of the New York Rangers, and she tells Nikki it will never work out between them. Why?
- You’re a dreamer, and it scares me!
Ok, so now he’s a DREAMER. He has never before expressed a thought beyond whom he can bang next in order to get a free sandwich, but suddenly now he’s a “dreamer”. This is another moment where somebody conveniently ascribes character upon Nikki he has never come close to displaying. He’s a “good person”; he’s “a dreamer”. Oh, okay. May as well say he “Discovered a cure for the HIV”, and that he is “The founder of Doctors Without Borders”, for all the value these words hold.
While they are surrounded by bags of groceries for the owner of the New York Rangers Heather goes on to say she and Nikki won’t make it because Nikki has no clue that it takes a few thousand dollars for them to get an apartment, (just ignore the fact that they were living in an apartment yesterday.) She also says that since yesterday she somehow managed to get married to the owner of the New York Rangers. And just then, right on cue, the owner of the New York Rangers walks in, and Heather explains to the owner of the New York Rangers that Nikki is the grocery delivery boy.
Cue sad ending, and Ashton goes outside to make a pouty face. Then, get this; Nikki goes back to L.A., and after Heather called him a grocery delivery boy, he gets a job as a grocery delivery boy! He does this for no damned logical reason, except the writer needs to put a tidy little bow on his brain-dead, moronic script.
Nikki ends up delivering groceries to Samantha’s house, and while there he meets the next dumb sex toy she allows to stain her sheets. He is wearing the same towel Nikki was wearing earlier when HE was the one ordering food on her credit card. Ah the wheel of life keeps turning, and we are left with a quasi-sad ending. No wait; it is a genuine sad ending, because this new chunk-muscle is the guy who gets to break in Samantha’s new vagina, and not Nikki, for whom she remodeled her inner realm. Damn the hands of fate!
Finally this whole disaster ends in the only way appropriate for it to end. Nikki comes home to Harry’s apartment, where he has apparently wormed his way into lodging. (No telling WHAT he is doing with Harry for that privilege.) He goes in the kitchen to get a box, and then he feeds a mouse to a frog.
No shit. I’m not shitting you, that is how they end this film.
Frog eats mouse — Roll credits.
Un-friggin-believable this movie. I’m sure that frog deal was meant to be some kind of metaphor, but No! This movie is not allowed the attempt at high-minded themes. It is forbidden to even entertain the concept of metaphors. After trotting out a cast of repugnant creatures, who all behave like musk oxen in rut, you are not allowed to use lofty dramatic devices to close your film. Sorry.
The only thing you would be allowed is to have Nikki end up drowned in six inches of brown water from a condemned pool at a nameless trucker motel, naked from the waist down while wearing half a chicken costume from his coupon delivery job in Clovis, New Mexico.
Because that would be considered a happy ending for audiences.
APPLICATION JUDGEMENT APPROVED