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Personal Effects
DVD disk
05.25.2009 By: Jason Adams
Personal Effects order
Director:
David Hollander

Actors:
Michelle Pfeiffer
Ashton Kutcher
Kathy Bates

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A woman whose husband has been murdered meets a young man whose sister has been murdered. They grieve together. Sexually.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I think the most/only interesting part of PERSONAL EFFECTS is that I’m pretty sure it’s an uncredited Topher Grace narrating the movie. That’s really the only thing about the film that genuinely surprised or intrigued me. Probably not a good sign.

Death and grieving is always fertile ground for good drama. Unfortunately, PERSONAL EFFECTS doesn’t have anything else aside from its subject matter to help its case. It’s slow, in more of a boring way than a character-building way, and I didn’t really take anything away from the story. However, it does sport a decent cast for a small indie flick, mainly Michelle Pfeiffer, who does what she can with a one note character, and Kathy Bates, who spends the film doing random motherly chores (laundry, raking etc.). And then there’s Ashton Kutcher.

It’d be an easy joke to knock Kutcher for his dramatic acting ability (his “I’m upset and grieving” face is kind of funny), but the truth is I think the dude actually has some talent, and was surprisingly good in THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT. I’m glad he’s trying to branch out to different material, but this story was not the way for him to go. His character is so poorly written that Kutcher never really has a chance to distance himself from unintentional comedy. For example, he acts all dramatic and torn in the first scene, and then he puts on a chicken suit to dance around outside. This pattern continues for most of the film. My favorite is when the director has Kutcher try to open up emotionally…by constantly talking to a deaf boy who isn’t looking at him or paying attention, because he can’t hear! (In fact, the entire ending could’ve been avoided if he had just learned some sign language.) More importantly, Kutcher has no real chemistry with Pfeiffer and their scenes come off cold and lifeless.

On the positive side, Pfeiffer still looks amazing, especially for a 51 year old. I still can’t believe she was in SCARFACE.
THE EXTRAS
Behind the Scenes (18:45): Interviews with the writer/director, Kutcher and the deaf actor who plays Pfeiffer’s son. Like the movie, it’s slow and boring.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
If you’re at the video story and you’re like “Hey, a drama with Michelle Pfeiffer!” and you’re thinking about renting PERSONAL EFFECTS, I wouldn’t. There are a million better movies who do better justice to a similar story. And they probably don’t have Ashton Kutcher.

Extra Tidbit. In this movie, Ashton Kutcher plays a young man who wrestles for the University of Iowa until his twin sister is murdered. In real life, Ashton Kutcher wrestled while attending the University of Iowa and has a twin brother. Weird.
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