FFWD REW

Vapid is as vapid does

Ashton Kutcher embodies the douche bag

In the R-rated cautionary comedy Spread Ashton Kutcher stars as Nikki a pretty-boy con man who sleeps his way into seducing rich older women. Homeless jobless and basically brainless he has nonetheless successfully turned tricks his entire life transforming every female in his path — except one — into a puddle of unstoppable lust. Scottish director David MacKenzie is clearly aiming for some sort of character-studying morality tale in which a none-too-likable protagonist hits rock bottom. The only question is: Who wants to study a character this insipid?

As the film opens Kutcher delivers Nikki’s cocksure outlook on life via first-person narration. He knows he’s a heartbreaker; he knows he can get whatever he desires from the desperate; and he’s always known that Los Angeles would be his perfect playground. At this point the dialogue is snappy enough yet there’s already something intrinsically annoying about the character — right down to his scarf and suspenders — and as it soon proves the women he targets as well. Anne Heche is provided plenty of screen time portraying a successful lawyer with seemingly no self-esteem though she appears only slightly older than her seducer. Viewers may find themselves goggling through not only the nonstop stream of skin-baring sex scenes but also at Heche’s tendency to rapidly and repeatedly overlook Nikki’s shortcomings even after gaining the power position over him.

Continuing with its small semblance of a plot Spread provides yet another update on the Bedtime Story / Dirty Rotten Scoundrels archetype: the story of a lothario who meets his match learns his lessons in love through a string of situations and reveals a few things about himself in the process. In this case the match in question is Heather (Margarita Levieva) a sassy coffee-shop waitress with a few tricks up her own sleeve. Unfortunately the story’s sole twist can be predicted by simply watching the trailer.

In the end Spread ’s numerous sex scenes easily supply the most memorable moments with the only possible contender being the closing credits’ close-up of a frog eating a fly. Kutcher has done nothing to alter his typecasting from the dim-witted character Michael Kelso on That ’70s Show reinforced in real life with his reality show Punk’d . As a douche bag he’s believable. So why fall for his cons?

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