Saturday, July 17, 2010

Killers (2010)

Title: Killers
Director: Robert Luketic
Studio: Lionsgate (2010)

It would be fair to say that sgwordy does not have a trail of successful movie theatre visits to think back on for the last few years. And so it would also be fair to say that when general ennui drove her to rope Dr M into a theatre visit the other night she wasn't expecting much (really anyfuckingthing) from Killers when it turned out that Inception had not yet opened. But let me convey this succinct true story:

scene - credits roll
sgwordy (flushed, grinning madly, turning to Dr M) - I feel like I just won a millions dollars!**

I shit you not! True story!

Recently dumped Jen meets hot (and I mean smokin' hawt!) Spencer whilst vacationing. They quickly fall in love but, unbeknownst to Jen, Spencer is a government agent with assassinatin' skills. Spencer's been wanting to plant some roots, though, so he's more than ready to give it a go with Jen in the 'burbs. Curtain rises...

I went into this with very low expectations for several reasons but I'll just mention the two most relevant: the trailer gives the impression that it's one of those movies that reserves its funniest lines for the trailer and that its story is one of those that might keep you interested for 2/3 of the movie but the last 1/3 quickly dwindles down to badly done sentimentality, apology speeches, resolving the Big Misunderstanding, or similar AND I was absolutely convinced there was no way Ashton Kutcher could, well, act but most especially that he could not pull off this role. Well, holy hot damn, I was wrong on both counts and happy to be so. This movie is funny from beginning to end (at times I was laughing so much that I was afraid I was missing subsequent funny lines) and Ashton Kutcher rocked my sox. Ok, no, it's not a difficult part but I simply could not imagine him doing it. But he did, and well. On top of this, Kutcher and Heigl had out of this world chemistry. They were so good I hope they do more movies together. No need to be romantic, just get them working as any kind of partners and it's going to be good; that's how awesome they were together.

Jen's parents play an active role in the story and they, too, are funny. (The four main actors were all quite funny with lovely chemistry no matter who they were in a scene with.) I would have liked to have seen more of the parents. Surprisingly, the other secondary characters were not well done. Often a romcom is saved by the secondaries but in this case they detracted from the real stars and certainly weren't funny in comparison. The other major flaw of the movie is the poor showing of the spies. I won't fault Killers too much for this because it is often the case that movie spies prefer to kill as obviously and stupidly as possible while attracting as much attention as possible. It continually annoys me because I love a good spy story and would just like to see people doing their jobs well. Amongst many other things, spraying up a public place with bullets is not doing your job well! BUT, there are some excellent hand-to-hand fight scenes that I quite enjoyed so that did make up a bit for the Too Stupid To Be An Actual Spy shit.

(Oh, and yeah, there should have been more of Kevin the Manager due to me wanting to see more of the actor! Don't look up who this is; just be surprised like me because that's part of the fun!)

So the chemistry really did a lot for the movie but what was even better was the awesome script. It was superb! Do I sound crotchety when I say that scripts seem to be the least of a movie maker's concerns these days? Well, anyway, it feels that way so when I get to sit through a great script I am just tickled. And especially in this case because it was so damn funny. It's not like the story set-up is all that realistic but the dialogue is so natural that you really believe Jen and Spencer would say what they are saying while they are doing what they are doing. And, better yet, they are funny while they are saying it. The dialogue very much centers around the way a couple would interact and that's another strength of the movie.

Jen and Spencer are a very committed and loving couple. How refreshing! This isn't about two people who want to change each other or who are sick of each other or who constantly make fun of each other to get the laughs; they are very deeply in love with a healthy relationship. Because of this the dialogue can't simply be full of gender/relationship-based cliches. The characters interact very naturally with each other in ways that denote a history and a full relationship. It's so funny because you believe what they say would actually be said between two people. You won't find insulting and disgusting quips about Women as Naggers and Men as Messy Cavemen but you'll get a lot of laughs from watching a couple interact as they try to work out the thorny problem of assassins on the lose.

Oh, and I love the theme of the suburbs being just as dangerous an environment as being a spy. It made me think of Mulder and Scully as the Petrie's. Awe! Some!

It's not like this is going to win any Oscars or go down as one of the funniest movies of the decade (though I can't currently recall the last movie I saw that was this funny in the last few years so maybe it will) but it's a solid script that will keep you laughing from beginning to end. I know it'll be one that I re-watch often when I can get my hot little hands on the DVD.

rating: 4 of 5 stars

** I feel it's only fair to mention that the movie price was $4.75/adult because the town we were in does cheapy late night movies Sun-Wed and that definitely contributed to the lottery winning feeling. I was in high school the last time I saw a movie at night for that cheap!


  1. The general reviews for this were not that good, so I skipped it initially. Given what you've covered here, I may give this a try, if it's still somewhere around. But, for sure for DVD. Thanks, Rachel.

  2. wowsers. i'll have to check it out. i've never seen a kutcher movie before (i'm not counting 'open season, which my kids liked) so i can't judge the acting ability, but i've seen 3 heigl movies (never watched her tv show)and was always left with this weird feeling that i like her, i think she has some acting skill, but the movies just weren't convincing (27 dresses, the ugly truth, knocked up) and she really had no believable romantic connection to the male leads. how can you have no romantic connection to gerard butler?

  3. lp13 - it's a truth universally acknowledged that if I like a comedy it's usually panned (and disliked by the public; it's probably the only time the critics and general public agree so well:). Comedy is the hardest sell of any movie genre for me and I seem to have a very different idea as to what is funny. Not sure why this is...

    The movie certainly has flaws but as a comedy it works really well. As I said, the secondaries are not good and the plot has some serious holes that fall under the Too Stupid To Be an Actual Spy category but since I wanted to laugh, and did, the plot was not of great concern to me.

    M - I think Heigl is a pretty good comedienne. The good chemistry in this one makes her even funnier. I've seen the first two movies you mentioned (the third finds itself residing in a movie trope category of which i have a firm Will Not Watch policy) but only sort of liked THE UGLY TRUTH and I'm not sure if I finished 27. I don't think much one way or the other re Butler (I know, it's weird but true) and so never thought to peg the chemistry bit on her, but I do agree that it's not stellar. I actually thought it was one of those movies that didn't live up to the plot's full potential... ah well...

  4. To follow up on Rachel's response to M's comments, I have seen Knocked Up. The flaw there, in my opinion, was that Heigl and Seth Rogan were not a good pair. Both are talented, but Heigl is more in her element when she's plumbing more mature, relationship-based humor (like Killers) while Rogan's strengths lean much more toward the screwball everyman (see 40 Year Old Virgin, Superbad, etc). Killers represents a stronger pairing of leads and a more familiar brand of comedy for Heigl, which I think leads to the better chemistry.

  5. Hey Jeff, good point on that. Poss is the problem as well in THE UGLY TRUTH since some of the comedy is of the screwball variety.