Ashton Kutcher: a life in film
Ashton Kutcher has made it big without ever being in a decent film. Time Out looks back over his strange career
After winning a local modelling competition and jacking in his production-line job at the Cheerios factory, he made the decision to become a star of stage and screen, signing on for top-billing in a Pizza Hut commercial, then snagging his first 'proper' acting job as ‘Louie’ in the critically reviled fratboy muckfest, ‘Coming Soon’.
The notices were good and the parts became meatier, from ‘College Kid’ in the Ben Affleck Christmas-based military siege movie, ‘Reindeer Games’ to ‘Jim Morrison’ in dire Freddy Prinze Jr money-spinner, ‘Down to You’.
Paydirt came in 2000 with the Kafkaesque mental illness chimera, ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’ in which Kutcher stumbles around some militarised swampland in rural Nebraska with Stifler from ‘American Pie’, smoking oregano through a Dr Pepper bottle and saying things like, ‘I refuse to play your Chinese food mind games.’ The film made $13 million in its first weekend and a star was born.
While his screen career lumbered him with the not unhelpful typecast of ‘Misc Obnoxious Twentysomething’, we were to receive an acrid taste of his ‘real life’ persona in the childish sub-Beadle TV ratings behemoth (TM) ‘Punk’d’ in 2003. At the beginning of each episode, he gives a cocky to-camera address, revealing the vile, sniggering man-child behind the vile, sniggering man-child, and proving that success had not just gone to his head, but it was beginning to seep gelatinously from his eyeball cavities.
Ineffably drawn to films which saw him either, a) accidentally getting married, b) ingesting drugs to the sound of the zither, or c) being taught how to lifeguard by Kevin Costner, it seemed that Hollywood had developed a taste for lackadaisical quasi-hunks with low IQs and deep chin crevices. He sunk low with his supporting turn in ‘Cheaper By The Dozen’, the Steve Martin film based on a textbook about childbirth promotion in Fascist Italy. He sunk even lower in 2006’s mirthless ‘Guess Who’, a gag-for-gag remake of 1967’s ‘Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?’, a film which was considered thematically obsolete upon its release over forty years ago. Even as recently as 2006 he managed to help turn Emilio Estevez’s bad film ‘Bobby’ into Emilio Estevez’s really, really, really bad film ‘Bobby’.
Some people may say that he shone in the long-running sitcom ‘That ‘70s Show’, but it’s his film career we’re worried about. This week, Kutcher stars in ‘What Happens In Vegas…’ opposite Cameron Diaz, a film in which a pair of superficial LA bottom-feeders win big in said ersatz gaming utopia, only to discover that they went a bit crazy with the complementary J&Bs the night before and – you guessed it – got married.
The fact that the film bears an uncanny resemblance to his 2003 mis-matched honeymoon caper, ‘Just Married’, is a mere bagatelle. According to the IMDB, Kutcher has eight projects in development. The studios love him. The public loves him. Everyone loves him.
Author: David Jenkins
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