- The Washington Times - Monday, August 25, 2003

Memo to Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez: Remember to buy Ashton Kutcher a really big Christmas present this December.

The inexplicable It Boy’s new film, “The Boss’s Daughter,” should replace the couple’s “Gigli” as the worst film of the year.

“Daughter,” hibernating on a studio shelf for nearly two years, bears little resemblance to reality in either its plotting, characters or situations.

The only way Mr. Kutcher could do more damage to his buzz would be to get caught canoodling with Phyllis Diller.

When a teen movie is released with a limited ad budget just as many teens are going back to school and it’s not screened for critics, you get the feeling a film’s not wanted.

Mr. Kutcher’s performance here doesn’t embarrass. He always has those dark brown eyes and sculpted jaw to fall back on, and he’s good enough to pass for the film’s nebbish next door despite his GQ appearance. His fatal error was that he picked up the script and didn’t instantly drop it like a red-hot poker.

Mr. Kutcher is Tom, a milquetoast researcher at a publishing firm who pines to work in his boss’s creative department. Said boss is Jack Taylor, a wholly unbelievable rageaholic played by Terence Stamp.

Tom also has an eye for Jack’s daughter Lisa (Tara Reid, all lip gloss and dazed smiles), never mind the potential minefield such a courtship could entail.

A clumsy conversation with Lisa convinces Tom they have a date. Instead, she’s asked him to watch her father’s mansion for a few hours. Tom also has to care for Jack’s pet owl named O.J. Why name an owl O.J.? So screenwriter David Dorfman (“Anger Management”) could have Mr. Kutcher run outside and cry, “O.J.’s on the loose” when the fowl escapes.

Soon, all manner of house guests drop by the mansion to wreck furniture and give mild-mannered Tom fits.

Only in a painfully contrived script can such a simple assignment go so awry. First, the just-fired Audrey (Molly Shannon, who lights up even the dimmest of projects) comes barreling in with her psychotic beau nipping at her heels. Then, a succession of respectable character actors trudge through, each more moronic than the next. None behave in a manner even remotely identifiable as human.

And just for the record, urinating mobsters, blind quadriplegics and girls with bleeding head wounds usually aren’t funny. Neither is Tom repeatedly tripping over and smashing various antiques.

The crimes against cinema mount as the minutes drag on. Wasting decent actors like Michael Madsen, Miss Shannon, Dave Foley, Jeffrey Tambor and Andy Richter should be worth a stiff fine.

The biggest question, beyond why the studio didn’t leave “My Boss’s Daughter” to rest permanently in cold storage, is what’s all the fuss about Mr. Kutcher?

“Dude, Where’s My Car.” “Just Married.” “Texas Rangers.” And now “My Boss’s Daughter.” When your entire celebrity hangs on dating older hotties like Demi Moore, the quality of your films really doesn’t matter.

Mr. Kutcher may have to break up with Miss Moore and date the entire cast of “Baywatch” to justify his buzz should he land more movies like “My Boss’s Daughter.”

1/2 *

WHAT: “My Boss’s Daughter”

RATING: PG:13: Sexual situations, drug references, excretory humor and strong language

CREDITS: Directed by David Zucker. Written by David Dorfman

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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