“What? She started it!”
Who is Walden Schmidt (Ashton Kutcher)? We’ve come to know that he is a billionaire who attempted suicide because his wife (Judy Greer), wants a divorce. And, that he is an over-grown child with the toys to prove it. That took two episodes of the new Two and a Half Men to establish.
In episode three, “Big Girls Don’t Throw Food,” we don’t find out too much more about Walden. In an attempt to win back Myra, Walden takes her out on what he hopes will be an adult date where he can prove his new-found maturity.
Unfortunately, Walden takes restaurant advice from Jake (Angus T. Jones), who proves he is the Half Man of the title for a reason. Walden ends up at a fast food joint where his adult dinner quickly devolves into a food fight with a pre-teen girl at another table.
Ashton Kutcher is good at playing an over-grown child; as good as he was playing a teenage child on That 70’s Show. It’s still early in his run as Walden Schmidt to make many judgements; we don’t necessarily need to see any evolution in the character yet. Then again, with this show’s reputation, we probably shouldn’t expect any.
Alan (Jon Cryer) meanwhile, is surprised by the arrival of Jake. Worried that Walden won’t want Jake staying with them, Alan is just a guest after all, he tries to hide the fact that with Alan moving in, Jake’s coming too.
Jake gets it in his head that he wants to drop out of school after Walden tells him that he dropped out. Walden failed to mention that he dropped out of MIT and not High School, and only after he had created his billion dollar idea.
Angus T. Jones plays dumb quite well. A joke about how many zeros are in a million may play as a little canned, but his sell of the answer is funny, especially his triumphant idiot smile.
“Big Girls Don’t Throw Food” marks Jake’s first real arc of the new Two and a Half Men; Jones was used sparingly in the two-part premiere. He’s going to need a little more time with Kutcher before we can judge their chemistry but there are good signs there.
The episode’s closing revelation of Judith (Marin Hinkle) making out with a despondent Walden after his disastrous date was a surprise payoff that led to a funny closing conversation between Alan and Jake that may play as a running gag; Jake caught the makeout session on video for future blackmailing.
That potential running plot plays into one of the show’s best running bits, Alan’s inferiority complex relating to Walden. The biggest laugh in all of “Big Girls Don’t Throw Food” was a toss off joke by Alan about how good looking Walden is:
“Your face should be on gay money.”
I don’t know if this is the same way Alan related to Charlie but Jon Cryer definitely has a talent for self-loathing humor and his continuing awe of Walden’s good looks and money has done well to mine that talent for a few big laughs. It’s also rare and pleasant to hear a gay joke that isn’t innately homophobic, unless assuming that gay men find Ashton Kutcher attractive is somehow mean-spirited.
The new Two and a Half Men has already built a comfort and familiarity that is welcoming to both new and long-time viewers. The jokes are funny and I’m really enjoying the show’s easy-going vibe.
I can’t make the comparison between Kutcher and Charlie Sheen as this is my first exposure with the show, but based on what I know of Sheen and what I heard about the old show, I think I prefer Ashton’s man-child act to Charlie’s apparently meta take on his real life weirdo.
The new Two and a Half Men is not on my DVR season pass yet, but it’s getting there.