Toy Boy – Spread (2009)
Directed by: David Mackenzie | 95 minutes | drama, romance | Actors: Ashton Kutcher, Anne Heche, Margarita Levieva, Sebastian Stan, Ashley Johnson, Sonia Rockwell, Rachel Blanchard, Shane Brolly, Eric Balfour, Maria Conchita Alonso, Dani Levine, Sarah Buxton
When womanizer Nikki (Ashton Kutcher) comes to Los Angeles, he dreams about ‘the easy life’: sexy chicks, sports cars, drinking cocktails by the pool… And guess what?! Most of it still comes out! But life eventually turns out to be different than in a Van Halen video clip. “Damn you, Van Halen!”
Nikki may have the looks and the moves, but he barely has any money. That’s why he hooks up with the older, wealthy lawyer Samantha (Anne Heche), who knows very well how the fork is in the handle. She supports Nikki and gives him a roof over his head; in return he ensures that she is pampered on all sides and especially sexually attracted to her. Meanwhile, Nikki also has fun with young flings, but it only becomes a problem when one day he meets Heather (Margarita Levieva). This feisty waitress turns out to be a hard catch for Nikki, while (or because of it?) he genuinely likes her. So much fun, in fact, that he begins to see that the life he aspired to is very superficial and difficult decisions are necessary…
Who else but Hollywood’s most famous toy boy Ashton Kutcher could have played this part, you say? However, that is not the case in this film. Kutcher is handsome and has the nonchalant attitude of a womanizer, but lacks too much class and charm here to make it clear that he is ‘the man’. In fact, you could say that his portrayal is just as superficial as the film itself. Because no character gains much depth or meaning, making empathy a difficult task for the viewer. That is clearly a shortcoming towards the end, but that superficiality is also a strong point of the film. Clearly no punches are made about what Hollywood is all about: the exterior. A good example of this is the vaginal correction that Samantha has secretly performed to keep Nikki interested in her. After all, a tight cat is more important than a beautiful interior, isn’t it?! ‘
Toy Boy’ looks hip and fresh, with an eye for the contrast between extreme luxury (Samantha) and the vast majority who are having a hard time in LA (Heather). Beautiful pictures, beautiful people. Viewed in that light, the choice for Margarita Levieva as a ‘girl to fall in love with’ is not so strong. What’s so special about Heather, you ask? And if the script doesn’t answer it, then at least choose an actress with a natural charm as the creator. Unfortunately Levieva does not own it. The conclusion is that beautiful, hip, fresh, Ashton Kutcher and a lot of – by American standards – strongly portrayed sex does not necessarily lead to a special film. The lightness is so great that you have a great time, but not a moment is really grabbed. And that’s a bit of a shame. Chapeau for the end, however, which in a film with a focus on Hollywood goes completely against the principles that apply there. Nikki talks in this film about the comparison between his life in LA (at least initially) and a Van Halen video clip. That comparison also holds true for the film itself.