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"MY BOSS'S DAUGHTER"
(2003) (Ashton Kutcher, Tara Reid) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: After mistakenly agreeing to house-sit for his tyrannical boss, a young executive tries to keep things from spiraling out of control, all while hoping to get to know his boss's comely daughter.
PLOT:
Tom Stansfield (ASHTON KUTCHER) works as a researcher at the publishing house run by the tyrannical Jack Taylor (TERENCE STAMP) who isn't above firing people, such as his assistant, Audrey Bennett (MOLLY SHANNON), for something as simple as making a bad cup of coffee. Accordingly, Tom is nervous to approach his boss about an opening in the creative department, let alone ask out his daughter, Lisa (TARA REID), who also works there.

Tom thinks he gets a break, however, when Lisa appears to invite him to a party with her. It turns out she wants him to house-sit Jack's house so that she can go out with her boyfriend, Hans (KENAN THOMPSON). Tom only learns this when he gets to the house and Jack lays out the ground rules. They basically consist of feeding and tending to Jack's pet owl, O.J., and that he'll kill Tom should anything happen to the house while he's watching it.

Tom thinks that's no big deal, but once Jack and Lisa are gone, Lisa's brother, Red (ANDY RICHTER), shows up. He wants Tom to deliver a package to T.J. (MICHAEL MADSEN) when he arrives. Little does Tom know that the thug expects that to be drugs, or that Audrey and her friends, including Speed (DAVID KOECHNER) and Tina (CARMEN ELECTRA), will show up.

As things progressively get out of control and he worries about keeping his job should something bad happen, Tom tries to let Lisa know how he feels about her, all while dealing with her boyfriend, Hans (KENAN KOECHNER), a young woman with a bad head wound, Julie (EVER CARRADINE), and the ever-growing chaos that develops in the house.

OUR TAKE: 1 out of 10
There are all sorts of problems associated with attaining success early in one's career. For starters, it raises the expectations bar to nearly impossible to reach levels and even gets the envious hoping for your crash back to Earth. Then there's the fact that since everyone is human and failure is inevitable, such successive missteps, mistakes and outright botches are only that much more painful to witness.

Such is the case with David Zucker and his latest film, "My Boss's Daughter." In his first time up at bat as director, he hit a homerun with "Airplane." He then followed that with hits such as "Ruthless People" and the first two "Naked Gun" films, all of which seemed to indicate that he was a master at making funny films.

After taking a few years off, he returned with "BASEketball," the 1998 effort that wasn't anywhere as well-made or received as his previous efforts. I hate to say this, but it comes off as far better than his latest "comedy" that fails and flounders about in just about every way imaginable.

Not only is it poorly executed and not particularly funny, but it's also offensive in its choice of source material. Right or wrong, the filmmaker - and the rest of his cast and crew - managed to find the right balance of similar material and laughs in his previous films.

The latter is in short supply here. Unless you find the thought of trying to keep a person's bloody head wound off the furniture or talk of prior attempted rape as funny, you'd be best to give this effort a wide berth.

One should do so anyway, though, since it's a mess from an artistic standpoint. Utilizing the ages-old farcical plot of something simple progressively spirally out of control - that's fueled many a sitcom episode and various movies - the screenplay by David Dorfman ("Anger Management") tries to generate laughs via the bewildered protagonist's reaction to what's transpiring.

Unlike his sitcom-based predecessors, however, lead actor Ashton Kutcher ("Just Married," "Dude, Where's My Car?") has a problem finding his comedic timing with this material. The result is pain and annoyance for the viewer rather than giddy pleasure as we watch him make various facial expressions and alter the pitch of his vocal delivery in what are presumably supposed to be amusing, funny or hilarious responses to the escalating chaos.

Of course, Dorman's lame script does him no favors. Since we have no reason to like or care about his character, it doesn't really matter that Tom might lose his job due to his boss's house being trashed while he's house-sitting. At the same time, he also tries to make his move on the girl of his dreams who just so happens to be his tyrannical boss's offspring.

While that's obviously the origin of the film's title, it's really a misnomer since far more of the material deals with the house and its guests than with her. It doesn't help that everything's predictable (the few surprises are botched or overlooked entirely) or that Tara Reid's ("Van Wilder," the first two "American Pie" films) character is so horrendously written (she's somehow oblivious to 99% of the chaos going on in her own house) and terribly embodied by her.

All of that might have partially been acceptable and/or forgivable had the humor and jokes been successful, but they're not. Here's a prime example: The boss - played by the usually terrific Terence Stamp ("The Limey," "Superman") in a wasted role - owns a parrot named O.J. When Kutcher's character comments on that being after the murderer, Stamp obliviously replies that it's for the football player.

Then, when the parrot escapes - after drinking - excuse me while I snort in amusement - cocaine-tainted toilet water, Kutcher races out, stating that O.J. is on the lose. As a result, nearby people scream and rush off in terror.

If that doesn't get you going, maybe the scene featuring Michael Madsen ("Die Another Day," "Wyatt Earp") visibly urinating all over a living room - in defiant response to having a gun aimed at him - will suffice. I could go on, but simply recalling the many failed, lame and inane attempts at humor is far too painful to continue.

A host of name performers - such as Molly Shannon ("Serendipity," "Superstar"), Andy Richter ("Big Trouble," "Scary Movie 2"), Jeffrey Tambor ("Never Again," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas") and Carmen Electra ("Get Over It," TV's "Baywatch") - appear in various supporting roles, but they range from bad to horrible. In Electra's case, she's obviously present solely to appear in a clingy, tight and wet t-shirt after landing in a pool.

Despite its sitcom style trappings, there is some potential in the basic premise of this farce. Perhaps with a better and/or at least different script, direction and cast, it might have been a decent and maybe even funny comedy. Alas, the world will never know. "My Boss's Daughter" rates as a 1 out of 10.




Reviewed August 22, 2003 / Posted August 23, 2003


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