Wednesday, June 9, 2010

review | Killers

SHOOT ’EM DOWN | Katherine Heigl's character in KILLERS has many facets, but oh my gosh, people, that's so not a compliment. Combining the worst things about female roles in romantic comedies with the worst things about female roles in action flicks with the worst things about female roles in Katherine Heigl movies, Heigl plays an oppressively bumbling lump of movie-lady clichés who's so inexplicably tense and neurotic around a cute guy — HELLO, SHE LOOKS LIKE THE PRETTY AND VIVACIOUS KATHERINE HEIGL — that she doesn't know whether to introduce herself as Jen or Jenny or Jennifer or Madame Fussbudget or The Spazatron 5000. On vacation in the French Riviera with her parents/micromanagers (Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara), she shares a hotel elevator with — and, naturally, is promptly humiliated in front of — a Bland Hot White Dude (Ashton Kutcher) who’s actually a Bland Hot White Super Spy. (Bland Hot White Dude was just his cover.) Because she swoons over his "physical godlike perfection" (PLEASE NOTE: ASHTON KUTCHER DID NOT WRITE THE SCREENPLAY), and because he apparently has a thing for girls with a collection of tics, they fall madly in love. He quits the whole strapping-bombs-to-helicopters trade, and three wonderful years later, they're married and living in a quaint Georgia suburb when his questionable past endeavors — insert Butterfly Effect joke here — catch up with him. She learns his secret, which leads to a lot of shrieking, some ironic bickering (LET'S ARGUE ABOUT HAVING A BABY WITH GUNS BLAZIN'), and a general aping of James Cameron's True Lies... you know, except scaled down, ponderously unfunny, and without all the awesomeness.

The single promising comedic curveball in Killers is that everybody in the couple's lives — friends, neighbors, co-workers — is a covert sleeper assassin waiting to knock off Kutcher and collect a $20 million bounty, only all of these hitfolks are remarkably terrible at their job, and the film inertly lurches from one boilerplate chase scene to another. When a movie inspires this much bored fidgeting, you gotta make note of anything that could possibly be construed as "good," so here we go: 1.) Director Robert Luketic's 2009 collaboration with Heigl was the appallingly misogynistic The Ugly Truth, which makes Killers look positively feminist in comparison. 2.) Kutcher, so rigid and hypermasculine he's like a robot turned to its MARK RUFFALO setting, appears shirtless less than 10 minutes into the movie. If you're into that kind of stuff. 3.) O'Hara, on loan from the Institute of Hilarious Persons Who Sometimes Singlehandedly Make Bad Films Worth Enduring, does her usual loopy-mom shtick — this time with a twist of alcoholism! — and it's disposable but cute. 4.) Killers does have the ability to surprise, because R&B sensation Usher shows up in a bit part as a Kmart pharmacy manager, and I was totally not expecting that. So, yeah. Thank heaven, small mercies, etc. D —Jasper

Rating: PG-13. Running time: 100 minutes.

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