Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Just Married

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, some crude humor and a brief drug reference

Reviewed by: Denny Wayman and Hal Conklin
Reprinted with permission from CinemaInFocus.com

Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Romance Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
2003

Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Brittany Murphy, Christian Kane, Taran Killam, Monet Mazur | Directed by: Shawn Levy | Produced by: Robert Simonds, Tracey Trench, Lauren Shuler Donner | Written by: Sam Harper | Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox

Most adults will probably look at this film as a youth-oriented comedy. The tragedy is that our youth-oriented culture may look at this movie as a training film of how to actually connect with one another in healthy romantic love.

Here are two mismatched twenty-somethings who meet in a bar, move in with one another a month later, come from two completely different backgrounds, get married, and then wonder why they are in trouble. They struggle with the questions: Is this a problem to be solved? Or, is it a clash of values to be understood?

In some respects, the story of Sarah and Tom (Brittany Murphy and Ashton Kutcher) does have some honest lessons to be taught. Watching the true-to-life struggle of two people who have been reared as strong individuals and having to learn what it means to “become one” is painfully real. Sarah comes from a wealthy Los Angeles sports-team-owner background, where all of life and happiness is purchased. Her parents, family, and ex-boyfriends will do anything to sabotage the marriage, even dishonoring the marriage by disrupting their honeymoon.

Tom comes from a middle-class background that finds its greatest comfort in frat-boy humor and sports bars. His friends don’t find comfort in his marriage succeeding either, since it would be such a contrast to their own shallow lives.

Following their wedding, Sarah and Tom embark on a European honeymoon that is filled with comical pratfalls and painful incidents. For anyone who has been married, there are many scenes here that sometimes hit too close to home.

Although the film takes us to a “live happily ever after” conclusion, it is the struggle along the way that provides the teachable moments. Each time Sarah and Tom reach the most painful point of struggle, they, like many people, believe that they may have made the wrong choice in marriage partners. Each of them thinks that maybe they should have waited for more time before getting married in order for them to be “more mature.”

What they fail to understand is that “maturity” doesn’t come about by the passage of time, but rather through successfully working through our pain and struggles. It would take decades of reading books or talking to buddies in sports bars to gain any deep insights. In this instance, they will only succeed in becoming “mature” by staying in their marriage and forging a new kind of alliance—one that is not based on egocentric self-interest.

This is the same advice that Sarah gets from her mother and Tom gets from his father. Each has had to compromise to make their marriage work, and it is their valuable advice that wins out in the end.

So, with this end in mind, “Just Married” might have something to teach our youth-oriented film audiences after all. Its primary weakness lies in the fact that neither Sarah nor Tom (nor their parents) exhibits any credible spiritual depth. Without some form of deep roots, even a strong tree can eventually blow over in the wind.

DISCUSSION:

  1. How have our expectations of marriage changed in the last few years due to the failure of the individualistic and “free love” teachings of recent decades? Do you believe that this change will create a new appreciation for the power a committed marriage has on the souls of its partners? What will keep this from occurring?
  2. When two young people avoid the hard growth necessary for a true forging of a “life together,” what happens to them in their future attempts to unite with someone else? How can this long-term consequence be communicated to young couples so as to provide a compelling force to both stay together and grow into a true union?
  3. Do you believe comedies such as these are helpful to the future well-being of marriages or harmful? Why? If you were to make the film different, what would you change?

Rated on CinemaInFocus.com as “2 stars—Provocative.”

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I truly enjoyed this “youth-oriented film” (And as a 20-something, I’ll take that label as a complement!) I saw it twice opening week-end, in fact. Tom an Sarah are quite typical of 20’s today, which is both positive and negative in many ways. They meet on a BEACH and go play pool. Unfortunately, this film would have survived without them moving in together, but at least they did get married. SO many films show the 20’s as a time to be sexually unencumbered, not married.

The fact that they were willing to commit wholly to one person at such as age is truly commendable. Sarah does come from a wealthy controlling family, but seems to have survived it better than her siblings. Tom is a middle class working guy with one friend who is quite obnoxious, but he is well portrayed as an idiot rather than someone to lean on. They discuss Tom’s married at the church (never do they converse in a bar) and Tom’s attitudes about marriage are very good. This movie contains little frat boy humor (So little I don’t remember but a few remarks, made by the friend, that Tom quickly shot down.) more »
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Charity F., age 26
Positive—Just married was a great movie! I really liked it, yes, there was some sexual content. In the end one of the main characters um, expresses his true love to Sarah and pretty much told me what a marriage should be like, He told me to have values and respect and love for your spouse, and I think Jesus would want us to know that! I think children 11 and under should not be able to see this movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Kelly Fox, age 19
Positive—I thought it was a good movie… it was really funny, I enjoyed it. But it might be offensive to some people, I don’t recommend the movie for people younger than thirteen, and it depends on thirteen year olds, if they`re very mature for thirteen then I think it would be fine for them… and that actually goes for all ages. I don’t remember them ever having sex. I think all they ever did was implied that they did but it never showed them do it.

There was one scene when it showed a woman from a bar`s back. It had some sex humor, but not much at all. And the language wasn’t too bad. It didn’t have that much. But I think before you let your kids go see this to think about how mature they are.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—Debbie, age 23
Negative
Negative—My husband and I were terribly disappointed in this movie. We found it very offensive and did leave after about 40 minutes. (We thought about leaving after 15—but wanted to give it a chance). We checked this site’s review before we made our decision to go, maybe we should have waited for more reviews, or read all the way down to Lacey’s. As Christians, we honor our marriage, and marriage as an institution. This movie, I feel did not.

The constant in-your-face sexual humor degraded all of us in the theater. I was appalled at the number of young teens watching. Parents, where are you? Do we really want our children and young adults to think that this is what marriage is about?
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 1]
—Kathy, age 47
Comments from young people
Positive—I think you can sum everything up with, yeah there was some offensive sexual situations and remarks however, the movie (minus the sex comments) was really hilarious. I cracked up most of the time… if you like stupid slapstick stuff and “the funny things that go unsaid” then this is for you. It isn’t the script that is so funny, it is just the expressions and situations. The language wasn’t bad (the people behind us cursed more) and as far as all the way sex scenes there were none. It was “light, stupid, with no real lessons or enlightenment…” it just a funny entertaining movie. So, if you wanna be entertained… go see it.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Danielle, age 18
Negative—I saw Just Married on opening night with some friends. Unfortunately, I did not do my homework or I would not have gone. I was offended during several scenes that strongly implied sexual themes. Basically I thought if you took out all of the sexual remarks and scenes there would be very little of the movie left.

The scene where Tom met a girl from a sports bar in Europe and takes her back to his hotel room, where she takes off her bra and shirt suggests immorality and unfaithfulness. Watching movies such as that with strong sexual themes does something to teenagers minds. First it degrades the sacred gift from God (to be shared between a married man and women) and it also brings images to their minds that don’t easily leave.

To sum it up, if I would have driven my own car I would have left after the first 30 min. of the movie.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1½]
—Lacey, age 17
Positive—I think it`s a great movie. now it had some sex in there and a couple of sex humor, and some language. But I thought the story line was so good that it just blew out all the bad stuff. It was entertaining, and very funny. I don’t recommend to let young boys to go see it, but I think it`s fine for girls… well it depends on their age. Now it might confuse some kids that it’s okay to have sex before marriage… but the older ones will be fine. And I think it teaches on that you should really think about a decision before you just go ahead and do it.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Melissa, age 16
Positive—Lol, I loved this movie! It was awesome… I couldn’t stop laughing. And I even cried once. It’s a sweet, feel-good movie and I’d recommend it to anyone over 7 years of age.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Anna, age 11