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Spread - Movie Review

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Nikki (Ashton Kutcher) has found the key to survival in glamorous Los Angeles: He picks up older, affluent women and shacks up with them, romancing them as they support him. His latest conquest is Samantha (Anne Heche), a lawyer afraid of aging and is willing to go along with his scheme. But when he meets a waitress, Heather (Margarita Levieva), who knows his game and -- more importantly -- plays it even better than he does, Nikki is smitten. But can they find real love?

Produced through his own company, Katalyst Films, the best contribution Kutcher makes Spread in his easygoing personality, a good old boy affability that has become his trademark. Whether in an opulent Hollywood Hills mansion or at the counter of a modest coffee shop, Kutcher makes Nikki a stylish metrosexual, that men want to befriend and women want to bed. His standout scenes involve casual moments of conversation and goofball behavior. When Spread turns more emotional and dramatic, Kutcher and the film fail.

For this kind of film to work it's necessary to like or at least feel sympathy for the characters. Unfortunately, even during the hard times, Nikki is vacuous and uninteresting, and Kutcher, try as he might, is unable to bring him to life. Heche does her best with a thinly drawn role and other performances are adequate but mostly just there as window dressing for Nikki. The film's biggest problem, though, is that it spends so much time in a vacuous Hollywood demimonde that some of the emptiness inevitably rubs off. Eventually, Nikki “gets real" – he sees how hollow his dreams have been and starts a more honest life from scratch, delivering groceries for the rich women whose fridges he used to raid.

But it's hard to believe he can build a new life on such a shallow foundation. And neither he nor any of the other characters who get their just desserts earn our admiration. Which leads to one question: What's the moral of this immorality tale?

Cast: Anne Heche, Ashton Kutcher, Margarita Levieva, Maria Conchita Alonso, Hart Bochner, Sarah Buxton and Shane Brolly

Director: David MacKenzie

Rating: 2 out of 5*

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