Spread review (DVD) ?

With a title like Spread, I’d half-hoped this would be a quirky little film about preserves and conserves in the competitive world of village fetes, or possibly an emotional treatise on the disconcerting tendency for love handles to appear on people entering middle age. Unfortunately this is neither of those films and yet unless it’s to do with the number of legs parted in this unpleasant journey into LA’s party scene, I’m still none the wiser as to its meaning.

Ashton Kutcher, or Mr Demi Moore as he’s perhaps better known, plays Nikki a handsome lothario who finds wealthy women to sleep with and then stays there. He has to, because Nikki has no job and is homeless. But as he’s sooo gorgeous and is a pick-up artist of such talent – something he explains with no little smugness in an irritatingly if necessarily cocky voiceover – he can have any woman he likes. And so he does in the opening minutes of the film, picking up hot, skinny high-flying lawyer Samantha (Heche) and subsequently making himself at home at her swanky pad in the Hollywood Hills.

They’re soon getting naked on a regular basis but this doesn’t stop Nikki inviting round numerous other hot, skinny women as soon as Samantha goes away on business. Soon enough she catches him at it and breaks up with him – only to succumb to his charms almost instantly again and have some more frantic sex. Meanwhile, Nikki meets Heather (Levieva) a hot, skinny (do you see a theme emerging here?) waitress who seems completely immune to his charms which naturally makes him want her more. It soon becomes apparent that she is in the same business as him and so the games begin.

If there’s a message in Spread it’s that love is more important than money but given that this is hardly a new idea, there needs to be something else going for it to make it worthwhile. Sadly, there isn’t. The acting isn’t terrible although the script does its best to make it look bad. The locations are glamorous and everyone in it is hot, skinny and, as one character even says to Nikki, “vacuous”. In just one word she manages to sum up the entire film and while you could argue that that’s the point, that people shouldn’t be so superficial, it’s not all about flash and cash, the characters are all so shallow and unsympathetic it’s impossible to feel anything for any of them other than contempt and dislike. The story eventually trundles in the direction of redemption of sorts but it’s far, far too late and by then all the life will have been sucked out of you. Horrible.

EXTRAS Short interviews (just a couple of minutes each) with Kutcher, Heche, Levieba and Stan.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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