That the final few minutes of director, David Mackenzie’s film Spread feature a bull frog digesting a mouse, must mean something. I think it was the director’s way of laughing at his audience – his way of saying, “Gotcha!” Because, as it stands, Spread serves up a plot that has been seen numerous times before, but in its last few minutes it diverts from what one expects and travels a whole other route.
Unfortunately, that’s about the only good thing that happens in this otherwise dreadful film.
Set in sunny Los Angeles, Spread tells the tale of , Nikki (Ashton Kutcher) an empty-head Midnight Cowboy seemingly fucking his way through the women of La La Land for cash. Through voice over, we get to hear Nikki’s philosophy of how to find, fornicate-with, and forget any girl he sets his eye on. And that’s the first problem we have to deal with in Spread; Kutcher’s hustler roams a Hollywood party smirking and jerking his was through the crowd, and it’s just like one of his Nikon commercials. In fact, I was waiting for him to pull out his camera and take some pictures.
Look, there is no denying that Ashton Kutcher is a handsome, photogenic man with a great head of hair, and a nice chest…but when it comes to things like charm and sex appeal, he’s somewhat lacking. Sadly, when you hang a movie like this on your leading man, he’s got to be a least somewhat believable, and, well, how does that song go in those commercials I referenced earlier: “Some people got, and some people don’t”… Kutcher don't.
Be that as it may, we suspend disbelief, because Spread is so much fun to watch. The glossy look, the blinding colors, the big gorgeous houses, the seemingly endless shots of its star semi-naked. That’s got to count for something.
Actually one of the big pluses of this movie is former Lesbian and UFO abductee, Anne Heche who plays a Beverly Hills cougar named Samantha. As soon as Nikki hones in on Samantha at a party, you know you are in for some campy fun. Whether she’s riding Nikki’s tool like a bucking bronco, or checking in to the hospital to have a vaginal plasty, Heche does not disappoint, in fact she’s the best thing about Spread. I might have enjoyed this film a lot more, if Samantha was the focus and not Nikki.
For awhile, Nikki and Samantha are happy in their arrangement, until eventually it falls apart (as relationships of this ilk are prone to do, one imagines), because Nikki finds himself obsessing over a waitress he met in a donut shop.
Margarita Levieva plays Heather, the food serving object of desire and as expected, she initially rebukes all of Nikki’s advances until he wears her down with his charm (i.e. his smirking and jerking) and suddenly we are in rom-com land. But then, Spread takes a turn when Nikki discovers that the woman he loves is actually a prostitute (quelle horror !). At this point, my mind began to reel at the possibilities of what might happen – Prostitution Hers and His –in fact there is even one interesting scene when Nikki and Heather go out to a party and he gives her tips on how to pick up potential customers. Unfortunately Spread drops this idea before too long and degenerates into a very predictable story of the gal who got away, came back, got away again, and causes the hero to take an 11th hour flight to be at her side, complete with an engagement ring.
Giving credit where credit is due, as I mentioned earlier, Spread does manage to pull the rug out from under the viewer in the last few minutes – but unfortunately it’s not enough to save this otherwise wreck of a movie that tries to be earnest, sexy, moralistic and edgy but just comes off glossy, neurotic and dull.