Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity and language, 97 minutes
“Spread” like butter: smooth, flavorless
“Spread” is essentially an unmemorable, dull redo of the 1980 Richard Gere film “American Gigolo,” a flawed film that was far from perfect but still had style. “Spread” is a smooth but empty attempt to show what happens when a young, attractive hustler (Ashton Kutcher) meets his female match and then develops feelings for her. Yawn.
High-end lothario, Nikki (Ashton Kutcher) has slept his way into a life of privilege in the Los Angeles area. He hosts parties and beds scores of women, all while living it up at the Hollywood Hills home of a middle-aged female attorney, Samantha (Anne Heche). Everything is going swimmingly until Nikki meets a gorgeous waitress named Heather (Margarita Levieva), who, unbeknownst to him, is playing the same game that he is. As the truth of their life unravels, they find themselves sexually charged by a game of one-upsmanship that has them dining at fine restaurants and crashing posh parties, until they are forced to choose between love and money.
Directed by David Mackenzie (Hallam Foe, Young Adam), “Spread” is banal, vapid profile of sex, money, and access that Hollywood offers to the beautiful people. The real message – karma can be a female canine – comes as no big surprise to the low-budget, often explicit film that is largely unrevealing when it comes to opening up about relationships. The first half of the film is the better part as it details Nikki’s exploits through Hollywood and how he lives off the rich and gets to have sex too (homeless one minute, driving a Mercedes the next). The second half deals with the feelings that Nikki gets when he starts falling for someone who is essentially the female version of himself.
Russian actress Levieva (of TV’s “Vanished”) is the more memorable and gives a nice turn as someone who can play the game better than her male counterparts. The handsome Kutcher, with model looks, seems an inspired casting choice given his real-life relationship with Demi Moore, but he lacks the depth to carry off “Spread’s” trickier second act. Heche is also memorable as the older, prettier Demi Moore-like lawyer who can’t seem to throw Nikki to the wind because the sex with him is just that good.
“Spread” tries to channel the aforementioned “American Gigolo,” not to mention Warren Beatty’s “Shampoo” but Kutcher doesn’t quite yet have the necessary skills to make it as memorable. He’s a great, charming personality, but it takes more than looks to pull it off.
“Spread’s” isn’t a terrible film and it’s intriguing premise will draw some to it, but the effort is a mediocre one compared to what’s come before it.