Two Comedies from Lionsgate
Good Advice (February 5/10)
Though it boasts a promising setup and an impressive cast, Good Advice is simply unable to sustain the viewer's interest for the bulk of its mercifully brief running time - with the pervasive lack of laughs and woefully sluggish pace ranking high on the film's list of problems. Charlie Sheen stars as Ryan Turner, a high-powered investment banker who loses everything virtually overnight after he bets millions on a stock tip that turns out to be bogus. Facing homelessness, Ryan decides to surreptitiously take over his ex-girlfriend's (Denise Richards' Cindy Styne) advice column to make a few extra bucks - with the column's unexpected success inevitably placing Ryan at the center of an increasingly invasive media frenzy (which, in turn, threatens his burgeoning relationship with Angie Harmon's grouchy Page Henson). Director Steve Rash has infused Good Advice with a sitcom-like sensibility that admittedly proves an ideal complement to Daniel Margosis and Robert Horn's less-than-complex screenplay, yet there's just never a point at which the viewer is drawn into either the high-concept storyline or the plight of the central character - something that's due primarily to the aggressive vibe of superficiality that's been hard-wired into all the proceedings. It's a shame, really, given that the central trio's affable work has been augmented by an eclectic supporting cast that includes Jon Lovitz, Rosanna Arquette, and John de Lancie, with their combined efforts at wringing laughs from hopelessly stale material falling flat on an all-too-regular basis (and it certainly doesn't help that Margosis and Horn have peppered the movie with a number of eye-rollingly silly comedic set-pieces, such as Ryan and Page's trip to a performance artist that expels paint from his body in a most disagreeable fashion). The total absence of chemistry between Sheen and Harmon's respective characters cements Good Advice's place as a hopelessly underwhelming romantic comedy, and it ultimately seems unlikely that even Sheen's most die-hard fans will find much of anything worth embracing here.
Killers (June 6/10)
A mild improvement over filmmaker Robert Luketic's last few efforts (The Ugly Truth, 21, Monster-in-Law, etc, etc), Killers follows uptight career woman Jen Kornfeldt (Katherine Heigl) as she reluctantly agrees to tag along with her parents (Tom Selleck and Catherine O'Hara) on a trip to France. There, Jen falls into an impulsive relationship with a charismatic stranger (Ashton Kutcher's Spencer) and the two eventually settle down in her home town - with their domestic bliss threatened after a mysterious force from Spencer's illicit past enlists several assassins to take him out. Luketic - working from a script by Bob DeRosa and Ted Griffin - has infused Killers with a laid-back and thoroughly affable vibe that goes a long way towards initially capturing the viewer's interest, with the impressive French scenery and palpable chemistry between the stars generally perpetuating the film's easy-going sensibilities. The lighthearted, almost sitcom-like atmosphere proves effective at carrying Killers through its decidedly uneventful midsection, as the movie settles into a groove that would most likely be disastrous were it not for the good will cultivated by the opening hour (and also by the entertainingly eclectic supporting cast, which includes Rob Riggle, Alex Borstein, and Martin Mull). It's only as Killers morphs into a rather conventional romantic thriller that one's enthusiasm for the material begins to wane, with the emphasis on Jen and Spencer's relentless squabbling compounded by Luketic's less-than-competent approach to the film's action-oriented interludes (ie enough with the shaky camerawork, already). The revelation that many of the people in Spencer's life are actually sleeper agents itching to kill him - think The Truman Show with guns - ultimately proves intriguing enough to compensate for the otherwise lackluster vibe, thus cementing Killers' place as an acceptable time-waster that just barely gets the job done.