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Affable ‘My Boss’s Daughter’

Ashton is the best thing about this mediocre comedy
/ Source: The Associated Press

In a movie that will do nothing to advance his career, in which he’s asked to do little but transfer his goofy, good-natured persona from “That 70’s Show” onto the big screen, Ashton Kutcher gives it his all, and scores a few big laughs and plenty of chuckles.

Given that he's supposed be playing straight man to a zany supporting cast with solid credentials in “My Boss’s Daughter,” it’s impressive to see him shoulder the burden of making the thing work.

This modest little movie — which wasn’t screened for critics before opening day — is almost enough to make you forget about Kutcher the celebrity, who’s so famously dating Demi Moore.

Instead, “My Boss’s Daughter” presents Kutcher as the affable, too-pretty comic actor with a few solid, sitcom-honed skills. He falls down and breaks furniture, he gets caught with his pants down, and he provides about a dozen variations on the incredulous reaction shot — all funny.

Kutcher is Tom Stansfield, a frustrated employee of a huge publishing company lorded over by the imperious Jack Taylor (Terrence Stamp). He’s smitten by Jack’s seemingly unapproachable daughter, Lisa (Tara Reid), and he’s thrilled when she seems to be asking him out — but really she just wants him to housesit so she can go to a party.

Oh, and both Jack and Lisa think Tom is gay.

Let the hilarity begin — sort of.

Predictable story line
Jack is more than a bit uptight about his house, and he has an owl named O.J. that requires regimented feeding and medical care. Of course, as soon as Tom is left alone there, people start showing up and wrecking things, including Lisa’s drug-dealing brother (Andy Richter) and a goon (Michael Madsen) he’s doing business with; Jack’s unstable former secretary (Molly Shannon), to whose firing Tom unintentionally contributed; and, for no discernible reason, Carmen Electra.

Director David Zucker was part of the team that made two of the funniest movies of the 1980s, “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun,” so you’d think he’d have things under control — or, better yet, let them descend into gleeful madness. But his good-humored style doesn’t jive with the barely-there script by Dave Dorfman (“Anger Management”), who seems influenced by the crueler comedy of the Farrelly brothers.

Jokes about race and the disabled fall flat, in part because they’re poorly executed, in part because they seem out of place in what wants to be a madcap romp.

The spectacularly unfunny supporting cast — including Dave Foley, Jeffrey Tambor and David Koechner — doesn’t help either. But luckily Kutcher is there to try to clean up the mess.