Death and grieving is always fertile ground for good drama. Unfortunately, PERSONAL EFFECTS doesnít have anything else aside from its subject matter to help its case. Itís slow, in more of a boring way than a character-building way, and I didnít 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 thereís Ashton Kutcher.
Itíd be an easy joke to knock Kutcher for his dramatic acting ability (his ďIím upset and grievingĒ 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. Iím glad heís 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 emotionallyÖby constantly talking to a deaf boy who isnít looking at him or paying attention, because he canít hear! (In fact, the entire ending couldíve 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 canít believe she was in SCARFACE.
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.