Ashton Kutcher may have four million followers on Twitter, but that alleged popularity didn't transfer into box office dollars as his latest film, an R-rated sex drama titled Spread, garnered less than a million dollars, albeit in a very limited release. The movie, coming to DVD and Blu-Ray this Tuesday, is surprisingly decent, but "decent" is as good as it gets.
In Spread, Kutcher plays a monotone playboy named Nikki who lives off rich women. In essence, he has sex in exchange for mansions. After hooking up with a slightly older millionaire (Anne Heche, who, at 40, looks suspiciously younger than she did when she was last seen in something redeemable, way back in 1998), Nikki finds himself drawn to a beautiful but uninterested young woman named Heather (Margarita Levieva), who seems immune to his sleazy tactics of getting women into bed. He soon learns that she has a few cards up her own sleeve, which draws him in even further.
David Mackenzie directed the movie, which can best be described as a drama without any real drama. Spread's purpose seems to be to show Kutcher and Heche in as many sexual positions as possible, though that's a bit unfair. There is a romantic element to the film as the unique relationship between Nikki and Heather holds some intrigue, though Mackenzie and first-time writer Jason Dean Hall seem compelled to frustrate the audience as much as they can in that regard. While the chemistry between Kutcher and Levieva (who was last seen in Adventureland) keeps things interesting, the movie is generally unremarkable as it has little purpose or motivation. Some conflict arises, but the entire film is so subdued it rarely evokes much emotion.
Speaking of subdued, Kutcher represents the word. Kutcher, still best known for playing an over-the-top goofball in "That 70's Show," made a wise move in doing something entirely different; while I wouldn't go as far as to call his performance great, he does a fine job here. Despite his character being relatively unlikable, he manages to carry the film and keep the audience rooting for him.
And that's the odd thing about Spread. It isn't particularly original or clever, dramatic or interesting, and yet there's something that clicks. It isn't a film I'd watch over and over again, but the nonchalant behavior by Nikki in the face of his life falling apart and his relationship with Heather make it compelling. The picture is fast-paced and easy to watch.
Spread isn't a remarkable picture, but it has a quality to it that's hard to place. The movie isn't for everyone, but if you want to see Kutcher in a different light - or see him naked - Spread may make a decent rental.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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