Ever since its invention and meteoric popularity as a creative medium, television has been a training and testing grounds for up-and-coming actors and actresses. Many of cinema's most popular and successful actors, at some point in time, got their start, their first big break, or played to success on the small screen, including multiple Academy Award winners Clint Eastwood (Maverick and Rawhide), Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies), and Denzel Washington (St. Elsewhere). However for every Mork & Mindy that uncovers a star like Robin Williams or Family Ties that elevated Michael J. Fox to super-stardom, there are dozens of Cabin Boy-style bombs and Chris Elliot-level disasters where TV actors are asked to play in the big leagues and fail. I could go all day (Tom Green, David Caruso, the entire casts of Friends, M*A*S*H, ER, and Seinfeld other than Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney), but the number of successful TV performers that have bombed in movies easily outnumbers those aforementioned and unmentioned successes.
Add Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl, stars of this film review on Killers, to that long and sorry second list. Simply put, some actors and actresses should stick to television. On the small screen, they can hide in free, commercial-shortened, half-hour doses of entertainment among an ensemble of other performers that can help carry the show. They don't have to try and play leading lady or leading man, and they don't make you regret your admission price. Killers demonstrates that needed advice perfectly.
Killers follows the tightly-wound and parent-dependent Jen Kornfeldt (Heigl) who is married to the handsome and successful Spencer Aimes (Kutcher). They met under cute, yet awkward, circumstances while she was vacationing with her parents (the impeccably-mustached Tom Selleck, who's a long way from Magnum, P.I., and Christopher Guest-regular Catherine O'Hara, who's a long way from the mom she played on Home Alone) in Nice, France. You see, Spencer is a contract killer and Jen doesn't know it. However, after meeting and falling in love with Jen in France, Spencer decides to walk away from his deadly job for a chance at a normal life. Years pass and he's relishing the chance to have a regular job, a loving wife, and a cookie-cutter suburbia home with nosy neighbors that know his name.
Things are just
peachy lame until his past catches up with him and is exposed to Jen. Spencer is attacked in his own home by a co-worker he thought was his friend. Soon after, he finds his old boss murdered and learns that there's a $20 million contract out for him next. Does any of this sound funny? Does this sound like a couch-snuggling romantic comedy or a bad Jason Bourne-finds-redemption-and-settles-down sequel idea? I didn't think so.
It's right about now in this description that you can cue the circus music because the carnival of errors that follows is epically bad. That first co-worker mole that attacked Spencer turns out to be one of many planted in his life all around him to watch him all of these years since he walked away from being an assassin. Now that he's the target, every planted killer that was pretending to be friendly comes out of the woodwork and wants their shot to take Spencer down, from cougar secretaries, random UPS drivers, nagging girlfriends, and muffin-making married neighbors, all while dragging the now emotional, pregnant, and appalled Jen along for the ride. Like I said, carnival of errors!
Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl may be hot bodies with pretty faces, but they have absolutely no chemistry together. Both characters seem out of place in their movie lives and both actors seem out of place in these roles. The comedy is rough and the action is mindless and predictable. Director Robert Luketic might have hit gold with Legally Blonde in his feature directing debut and intrigued us a little with the breezy blackjack true story 21, but is starting to earn the crown of the "most preposterous romantic comedy maker" after Killers follows up his previous efforts of The Ugly Truth, Monster-in-Law, and Win a Date with Tad Hamilton. That's quite a foursome of badness.
If you want fish-out-of-water spy couples, watch NBC's Chuck every Monday for something that is triples the fun, laughs, and action of Killers. If it's a movie you need, go rent or Netflix the far more exciting, but sometimes equally-forced Mr. & Mrs. Smith with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. If you need the big screen experience, wait another week for Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in Knight & Day, which at least looks like it has some impressive action and stunts to go with its hot bodies with pretty faces.
Like I stated before, some actors should have stuck with television. Both Kutcher and Heigl have had some decent success in moving from TV to movies, but have now had their chances and need a fork stuck in them. On Grey's Anatomy, Katherine Heigl was the pretty face with emotionality that brought the house down for fans of the show. She started off red-hot with the outstanding Knocked Up, but has strung together an awful resume of 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth, and now Killers since then. Worse can be said for Ashton Kutcher, the former ditzy life-of-the-party on That 70's Show. Other than the arguably underrated pair ofThe Butterfly Effect and The Guardian, Kutcher has painted the craptastic portraits of Dude, Where's My Car?, Just Married, My Boss's Daughter, Cheaper by the Dozen, A Lot Like Love, Guess Who, What Happens in Vegas, Spread, and also now Killers. Both would've been better served working with their ensembles either saving lives or smoking pot in Forman's basement.
LESSON #1: DON'T LIE TO IMPRESS YOUR DATES-- Katherine Heigl's neurotic square of a girl Jen tries to be a dancing, drinking hottie when she's better off being her comfortable self. Ashton Kutcher's Spencer shouldn't keep secrets that big from his future wife. The longer the lie or bigger the lie, the worse the fallout. Be yourself and keep your confidence when courting.
LESSON #2: WHEN YOU GET TO CERTAIN AGE, DON'T BE DEPENDENT ON YOUR PARENTS-- Our high-strung Jen is always running to former pilot and Marine daddy when things don't go her way instead of talking things or solving problems with her husband first. Trust your spouse and keep open communication, after all, you married them for a reason other than sex, right?
LESSON #3: ALWAYS KEEP A "GO-BAG" JUST IN CASE-- You never know when you might need a loaded gun or two and fresh passports for when you need to drop everything a leave. Like when your neighbor tries to kill you. Keep a stocked duffel bag on an high closet shelf, in plain sight for your wife, for just this sort of occasion.
LESSON #4: KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE AND YOUR ENEMIES CLOSER-- Sun-Tzu was a wise man and "The Art of War" is a brilliant read. Oh, who are they kidding?! If Spencer was such a good international spy and contract killer how does he not notice, over the course of THREE YEARS, all of these suspicious neighbors, friends, co-workers, and relatives who turn out to be killers. Come on, King of all Twitter! Even with all of those "followers," Ashton, you couldn't see this bad movie coming?
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