Kutcher and Reid not only don't light up the screen, they put out the candles.

John J. Puccio's picture
John J.

The front of the keep case loudly exclaims, "R-Rated! The Version You Didn't See In Theaters!" That's funnier than anything in the movie because I doubt that more than a handful of people worldwide saw "My Boss's Daughter" in theaters.

This 2003 would-be romantic comedy was originally released with a PG-13 rating, but now in a ploy to drum up more business for it on DVD, it is offered in two formats, PG-13 and R, each disc sold separately. The original is listed at eighty-five minutes and the R-rated version at ninety, so I assume that five minutes of R-rated material has been added to the new edition to spice it up. But having never seen the movie in a theater and having been sent only the R-rated version for review, I can only guess at what the newly inserted R-rated material is. Nor was there a scene-selection insert included in the package that might have indicated the added content. I can only tell you that the movie I watched was awful. How much better or worse it is than the PG-13 version, I was unable to determine.

What I can tell you for sure is that "My Boss's Daughter" was directed by David Zucker, who had so much comedic success as co-director of "Airplane" and "Top Secret" and as director of the "Naked Gun" series. So, what happened here I don't know, because the new movie is not very funny. In fact, it's downright depressing it's so unfunny.

"My Boss's Daughter" stars Ashton Kutcher, whose last three movies were "Just Married," "Texas Rangers," and "Dude, Where's My Car?" Dude, where's your career? If he's not careful, Kutcher is going to forever be typecast as the nice, sweet, shy, airheaded innocent he plays here. Or maybe he's already been typecast. In any case, the role is getting stale. This time he's a researcher, Tom Stansfield, for a big Chicago publishing house. But Tom is not going anywhere in the company, and he has an eye for his boss's knockout daughter, Lisa, played by Tara Reid. Together, Kutcher and Reid not only don't light up the screen, they put out the candles.

I'm not sure who's at fault for the gags not working, but I suspect since it's Kutcher's film as star and Zucker's film as directer that they need to shoulder equal responsibility. Fact is, Kutcher just doesn't seem suited for Zucker's brand of zaniness. For instance, there's a scene where Kutcher's character is driving down a street with the window open and an owl starts chasing him, trying to get at a mouse on his shoulder. Don't even ask, but the joke should have been frenetically funny. Instead of laughing, though, we feel pity for the hapless Kutcher because he plays his character as such a sad sack.

Anyway, Lisa, the boss's daughter, invites Tom to house-sit one evening, which Tom misinterprets as her asking him out. When he arrives that night, he's informed of the real situation and glumly sits the house while Lisa goes to a party with her boyfriend. The house is big and immaculate and filled with priceless antiques, so everything that you would expect to go wrong does go wrong.

The father, Jack Taylor, Tom's boss, is a grumpy tyrant who fires people right and left. He's played by Terence Stamp, whose surly behaviour is the only vaguely comic element in this affair. How disagreeable is he? He keeps a bear trap in the front yard to keep the neighbor kids away. Unfortunately, he's not the main character, and he's not in the film nearly long enough. As an example of what goes wrong for Tom, the boss's favorite object in the world is not his daughter but his pet owl, O.J., whom he entrusts to Tom's care. Naturally, the bird drinks water spiked with cocaine, gets sick, and flies away. But you knew that.

At this point Audrey (Molly Shannon), the boss's ex-secretary, shows up at the house looking to get her job back because she's just been fired. When she's abandoned there by an idiot boyfriend, she asks to stay the night. Tom, unable to say no to anyone, agrees to let her remain, whereupon she invites her friends, Tina (Carmen Electra), who looks good in a wet T-shirt, and Speed (David Koechner), who doesn't look good in any kind of T-shirt, to the house to help find the lost bird. Then other people show up, like Red (Andy Richter), the boss's estranged son, trying to peddle drugs; T.J., a hoodlum (Michael Madsen, one of my favorite actors wasted again in a stereotype); Lisa, who's come home sooner than anticipated; and, finally, Lisa's date from earlier in the evening, Hans (Kenan Thompson).

There is a much too conscious attempt in the film to be anti-PC, which backfires as badly as the film's characters, who are already running on empty. Maybe Zucker was trying to out-Farrelly the Farrelly Brothers, but jokes about gays, lesbians, Jews, blacks, quadriplegics, breast cancer, head injuries, and the blind all fall flat. The height of grossness is achieved on a scale heretofore only matched by Tom Green when T.J. the hood unzips his pants and.... Well, you don't want to know, but he makes a mess of the living room.

The one moment of genuine Zucker zaniness that works happens at the end of the movie, involving the boss hanging from a limb, and I admit it made me laugh. But one laugh in ninety minutes is hardly cause for celebration.

Again quoting from the keep case: "It's the longer, funnier and R-rated version that you have to see to believe." I came; I saw; I didn't believe.

The picture quality is about what we have come to expect from a lot of Buena Vista transfers. It's clean, with no grain, no jittery lines, no pixilation; but the overall image is slightly glassy in a dull, veiled manner. Color bleed-through is minor, and facial hues tend toward the pinkish and orangish side. Still, the result is bright and showy, and for a movie like this, that's all anyone could ask.

Like most modern movies, the sound is reproduced via Dolby Digital 5.1, but it doesn't have very much to do. Like the video, the audio is clean, rendering dialogue clearly, but it hasn't a lot of stereo spread, dynamic impact, or surround effects to speak of. Musical ambience enhancement is moderate, but it's simply not the kind of film to have much use for the rear channels or supersonic fidelity.

The extras are on the weak side as well. About five minutes worth of outtakes are the highlight here, being better in most cases than what went into the movie. Then, there is a behind-the-scenes promo, "A Look Behind My Boss's Daughter," that lasts about four minutes, and Tara Reid's audition, about five minutes. Winding up the extras are sixteen scene selections; Sneak Peeks at a few other BV titles; English and French spoken languages; and Spanish subtitles, with English captions for the hearing impaired.

Parting Shots:
Clearly, director David Zucker's movies have become hit-or-miss of late. He started out with a bang in the early eighties, but "My Boss's Daughter" is a sore disappointment. Well, I suppose you can't be funny all the time. In this case, it's not even close.


Film Value