Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher will star alongside each other in an upcoming romantic comedy to be released on Netflix this February. However, despite playing love interests in the film, the chemistry between co-stars appears to be lacking in real life.
On February 2nd, Witherspoon and Kutcher were photographed together on the red carpet premiere of their new rom-com, Your Place or Mine? The resulting photographs, featuring the stars’ laughably awkward posture, quickly captured the internet’s attention and spread like wildfire via social media sharing.
Some poked fun at their posing, claiming that the pair looked like “divorced parents at their kid’s graduation” and “siblings forced by their mom to take a photo.” Others went as far as to declare the photos evidence that the stars don’t like each other, speculating that it’s “one of those ‘they actually despised each other’ castings.”
According to Variety, Mila Kunis, fellow actress, and Kutcher’s wife, joined in on the teasing by jokingly telling the stars they “look[ed] so awkward on the red carpet together.”
Regardless of how they actually feel about each other, this awkward red carpet appearance does nothing to inspire confidence that Witherspoon and Kutcher share the physical chemistry expected of two stars playing love interests in a romantic comedy.
This is neither of the actors’ first time appearing in a rom-com. In fact, Witherspoon and Kutcher dominated the romantic comedy genre in the 2000s. Witherspoon is known for her performances in Legally Blonde (2001), Sweet Home Alabama (2002), and Just Like Heaven (2005) in the early 2000s. Kutcher made his best contributions to the genre in the latter half of the decade with What Happens in Vegas (2008), Valentine’s Day (2010), and No Strings Attached (2011).
Despite both possessing considerable experience starring as leads in successful rom-coms, the actors still don’t seem to click with each other.
This lack of chemistry between costars in a rom-com—which has mustered up very little traction outside of the virality of the red carpet photos—attests to the fact that the few rom-coms of today fail to measure up to the rom-coms of the past. Romantic comedies, at the height of their popularity from the ’90s to the early ’10s, promised audiences humor, personality, and sizzling chemistry between costars. The majority of modern rom-coms, which are few and far between these days, are lacking in those departments.
It’s possible the genre has simply been played out. Maybe modern audiences are no longer interested in these types of romantic narratives.
Ideally, though, the romantic comedy genre will experience a revival. This reinvention would have to speak to the modern viewer by understanding contemporary courtship, transcending patriarchal nonsense in favor of feminist values, and achieving authentic relatability. Of course, it would also have to rekindle the charisma and attraction between costars that classic rom-com offered.
If the awkward red carpet appearance taught us anything, it’s that people want to see romantic leads with genuine chemistry more than anything else.
Who knows—Witherspoon and Kutcher may just showcase fantastic on-screen chemistry and help to revive the romantic comedy genre. If you want to find out how their performances stack up, Your Place or Mine? will be released for streaming on February 10th, just in time for Valentine’s Day.