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Just Married

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Original title
Just Married
Running time
95 min.
United States United States
Sam Harper
Christophe Beck
Jonathan Brown
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Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation / Robert Simonds Productions / Mediastream Dritte Film GmbH, Co. Beteiligungs KG
Comedy. Romance | Romantic Comedy
Official Site
Synopsis / Plot
JUST MARRIED chronicles the beleaguered romance of Tom Leezak (ASHTON KUTCHER) and Sarah McNerney (BRITTANY MURPHY), a young couple unexpectedly swept off their feet after their first meeting. Tom is a late night radio traffic reporter whose good looks, blue collar lifestyle and unrelenting passion for sports makes him the ultimate alpha-male. Sarah is a beautiful, free-spirited writer whose family is as wealthy as it is snobbish.

Much to the surprise of Tom's friends and the dismay of Sarah's family, the two quickly fall in love. Tom's attempts to assimilate himself into Sarah's world of privilege and expectations fall short, but Sarah ignores her father and sister's incessant attempts to dissuade her from following her heart and marrying her knight in rusty armor.

Following their wedding, the happy couple sets off with the highest of hopes and ideals about love and marriage, on what they expect will be the perfect vacation in Italy. But thanks to Sarah's wealthy ex-boyfriend and a relentless string of bad luck, the happy couple experiences a honeymoon from hell that tests the limits of their young love.

Twentieth Century Fox presents a Robert Simonds Production, starring Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy JUST MARRIED, also starring Christian Kane. The film is directed by Shawn Levy ("Big Fat Liar"), written by Sam Harper ("Rookie of the Year"), and produced by Robert Simonds ("The Wedding Singer").

JUST MARRIED was inspired by screenwriter Sam Harper's chaotic experiences on his own honeymoon in Italy, fifteen years ago. "My wife and I started fighting on the first night on our honeymoon," laughs Harper. "We had a month in Italy with all these great places to stay and see, but we were at each other throats the entire time. By the end of the honeymoon, she was staring at me with a look of buyer's remorse.

"Thankfully," Harper adds, "my wife and I are still happily married. But everyone I have spoken to on the subject has had at least one day, or at least a couple hours on their honeymoon where they were looking at the person across the bed and thinking to themselves, 'What did I do?'"

Years later, Harper envisioned a story that would explore the universal and often hilarious struggles of a young married couple. "It took over a decade for me to process that moment in my life and turn it into a screenplay," says the screenwriter.

Harper's script found its way to producer Robert Simonds - who happened to be returning from his own Italian honeymoon. "Sam had just finished writing a different project for me, and his JUST MARRIED screenplay happened to be in my pack of scripts to read on the long flight back from Italy," recalls Simonds. "I got about twenty-five pages into the script when I called Sam from the plane and told him I would buy it. I thought his screenplay was funny and authentic, with Sam's insight into marriage being spot-on. His story is emotionally disorienting in the same way being in an intense relationship can be disorienting."

Shortly after returning from his honeymoon, Simonds found a home for JUST MARRIED at Twentieth Century Fox, and Simonds and Harper's early vision for the film began to crystallize. "Our goal with JUST MARRIED is to tell a story with emotional depth and mix it with a lot of comedy," says the producer. "Many people I know have had less-than-perfect honeymoon experiences, or have had a romantic vacation with a significant other that was just a complete mess. We thought it would be interesting to take characters that were told they were too young to get married and immediately put them through a vacation that goes awry and makes them doubt their heart and decision."

With their concept in place and Harper fine tuning the script, the filmmakers began discussing actors to play Tom Leezak. Tom's testosterone-fueled world is turned upside down when his errant football pass knocks over a comely young woman, Sarah, who is walking her dog on the beach. It's love at first sight for Tom and Sarah, who move in together and decide to get married against the better advice of their family and friends.

The filmmakers' search to find Tom Leezak began and ended with Ashton Kutcher. "Ashton has developed an increasing loyal following of fans from 'That '70s Show' and 'Dude, Where's My Car?'" Simonds points out. "Lucky for us, he was looking for a project that showcased his range as well as comedic talents."

For Kutcher the role was love at first sight. "I laughed out loud and was sold after reading the first three pages," says the actor. "The story felt authentic in its depiction of the idiosyncrasies of relationships and marriage. Men and women are very different in terms of how they deal and work within that dynamic, and JUST MARRIED shows both perspectives. The characters have these subtle, quirky qualities that really hit home for anyone who has ever been in a relationship. Which is pretty much everyone."

With Kutcher on board, the filmmakers began their search for a director who could balance the story's physical comedy with its romantic backdrop. Shawn Levy, whose directorial debut "Big Fat Liar" was a box office success, got the nod.

"I thought 'Big Fat Liar' was an interesting combination of physical comedy and emotion, which was totally in line with what we were trying to do with JUST MARRIED," notes Simonds. "There's an old adage that movies take on the personality of the people who make them, and for JUST MARRIED we needed a high-energy, strong point of view. I felt Shawn would be able to deliver what we all wanted this film to be: a funny, energetic emotional rollercoaster ride."

Levy embraced JUST MARRIED's comedic elements without sacrificing its heart and idiosyncrasies. "My intention was to make a different type of romantic comedy, one that is funny and touching without being to sentimental," he explains.

Levy also was eager to exploit the untapped potential of his lead actor. "Ashton is very comfortable with himself, which is an important trait of Tom Leezak. This character is a departure for Ashton, and JUST MARRIED announces a new stage of his career. We all know how charismatic, attractive and hilarious he is, but people are going to be surprised by the emotion he brings to the film."

Next came casting the role of Sarah McNerney, a young writer trying to break free from the standards and expectations of her wealthy and hard-to-please family. In Tom, she finds her liberation and is able to create a life for herself that she desires rather than the life her parents want her to lead.

The filmmakers looked for an actress who could not only go toe-to-toe with Kutcher's physical comedic talents, but also ground him in the tender, gentler moments of the story.

"It wasn't easy to find an actress who could keep up with Ashton comedically," explains Levy. "The natural instinct when you're on screen with someone that funny is to just get out of the way. Of the actresses we saw, only Brittany Murphy had that critical pop' or, more accurately in Brittany's case, champagne bubbles of a personality.

"Brittany's honesty on screen is astounding; she is incapable of playing a false note," adds Levy. "Her natural effervescence and energy were the perfect counterpoint to the dynamic among the other members of Sarah's stilted family. Despite Sarah's privileged upbringing she has managed to preserve her feistiness, which Tom finds so attractive. Brittany naturally has those qualities, which made her perfect for the role."

Murphy previously garnered critical success playing a wide variety of on-the-edge characters in dramatic films such as "8 Mile" and "Don't Say a Word." So, playing the leading lady in a romantic comedy was an opportunity she couldn't refuse. "It's exciting to be part of a film that gives me the opportunity to make people laugh," she explains. "Who wouldn't want to go to work and play a character that's head over heels in love and is getting married? At this point in my career it's important to play characters that are grounded. I've always been a fan of romantic comedies, and this role in JUST MARRIED was an amazing opportunity for me to begin a new chapter in my career."

Although Sarah has fallen head over heels for Tom, her family's suitor of choice is wealthy young business tycoon Peter Prentiss, played by Christian Kane.

"Peter Prentiss has always been surrounded by privilege and grown so accustomed to wealth and power that he doesn't have any perspective on it," says Levy. "He is not your cardboard cutout antagonist; he's charming, charismatic and effortless in his power that is quite seductive to women."

"Peter Prentiss is the 'maybe' guy," injects Kutcher. "When you date a girl, there's always a guy who she's friendly with that you're a little bit suspicious of because she gets a little awkward whenever he's around. It's the guy she might've hooked up with, but you're too afraid to ask because you don't really want to know."

When Tom and Sarah begin to experience difficulties on their honeymoon, Peter coincidently shows up at their hotel in Venice on a "business trip" with the hidden agenda of breaking up their marriage.

"Peter is used to getting what he wants because he has a lot of money," says Christian Kane. "But for the first time in his life he runs into something he can't have, because Sarah is getting married. He becomes more than a little obsessed with winning her back."
2003: 3 Nominations for Razzie Awards: Worst Actor, Actress and Worst Screen Couple
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