Directed by Robert Luketic
Starring Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Tom Selleck, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Mull, Rob Riggle
Written by Bob DeRosa and Ted Griffin
Everyone has an opinion about Ashton Kutcher. If you are honest, when you saw that name, I am pretty sure some feelings (maybe positive, most likely negative) ran through your mind. His merits seem few, and his annoyances seem many. What is obvious, he is not a draw for most men. What is not so obvious is if he can consistently draw women.
For me, Heigl has been a mixed bag, starring as one of the most annoying characters (Dr. Isobel “Izzie” Stevens) on the most annoying TV show (Grey’s Anatomy) in recent memory. Then she starred (and did not detract from) the very good Judd Apatow movie Knocked Up. To her credit, she took issue with the crappy writing on Grey’s Anatomy before withdrawing her name for Emmy consideration. To her detriment, she also took issue with Apatow’s writing in Knocked Up, inferring it as somewhat sexist when she said the movie “paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.” Given that she went on to leave Grey’s not too much later, but also starred in such tripe as 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth, one might wonder if she really knows what good writing is.
Killers starts off in the worst possible way. Trying to make Kutcher seem like Bond is the worst possible thing you can do for someone with such limited charisma. The meet-cute between his character Spencer Aimes, and Heigl’s Jen Kornfeldt is really just boring, and I could not imagine desiring to spend another moment with either character. Jen’s parents, however, portrayed by Selleck and O’Hara, are somewhat funny and just get better as the story moves along.
So, the plot dictates that Spencer give up his spying ways and get hitched to Jen and then the story moves forward 3 years. After getting a glimpse of their “normal” lives, we get to see that while her parents are still (mercifully) nearby, they have encountered some trouble. Spencer’s old boss (Mull) comes back to town, wanting him to do another job. Spencer refuses, but somehow the cat gets out of the bag, and chaos ensues. Anyone who has seen Grosse Pointe Blank knows how this will end up Even if the reasoning does not make sense in any logical way, it is funny enough to let it go with a pass.
Catherine O’Hara is excellent in the role of Jen’s mother. The dependence on various forms of alcohol is portrayed in such an easy comedic style, it almost feels like a different film. The same goes for Selleck. His communication ability (or lack thereof) borders on brilliant. One wonders what this film would have been like in the hands of someone who understood what they had in the two parent characters and expounded upon them.
For their part, Heigl and Kutcher seem more at the mercy of the screenwriter than so Selleck and O’Hara. Both characters are funny when the script is funny. They lack the improvisational skills (or just plain acting skills) to make something out of nothing, which is what I suspect the elder set can do.
It would seem, then, that the problems with the movie seem tied to the direction and the writing. Luketic has had one good film (Legally Blonde), one decent one (21) and many clunkers (Monster In Law, Win A Date with Tad Hamilton! and the afore-mentioned The Ugly Truth). I have never heard of the writers before, but the material in this film goes from somewhat funny to maudlin. Looking over the earlier work of DeRosa and Griffin on IMDB, the only movies I had seen between them were Griffin’s work on Ocean’s 11, Rumor Has It and Matchstick Men. Of these, Matchstick Men stands out.
Researching a movie like this may seem a waste of time, but the movie has its positives. Heigl and Kutcher are not unwatchable, but they don’t seem capable of adding as much to average material as other actors could. The result is not so much a watchable failure, as a decent movie that could easily have been better.
(**1/2 out of *****)