Mark Reviews Movies


0 Stars (out of 4)

Director: David Zucker

Cast: Asthon Kutcher, Tara Reid, Terence Stamp, Molly Shannon, Andy Richter, Michael Madsen, Jeffrey Tambor, Kenan Thompson

MPAA Rating:  (for crude and sex-related humor, drug content and language)

Running Time: 1:25

Release Date: 8/22/03

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Review by Mark Dujsik

It's once in a blue moon that you can tell a movie is irredeemable well before a scene in which Michael Madsen urinates all over a living room, but ladies and gentlemen, My Boss's Daughter is that movie. The tagline, I learn, is "There are some things you just don't do," a maxim the filmmakers have clearly learned the hard way. The movie is an equal opportunity offender in the worst possible way. Just take a gander at this list of subjects screenwriter David Dorfman (a new addition to my very short list of people who basically need to reinvent the wheel to get on my good side) considers worthy of and sensible for mocking: domestic abuse, gross racial stereotypes, bleeding head wounds, breast cancer, the physically and mentally handicapped, rape, attempted suicide, and other things I may have subconsciously repressed to keep my sanity. Perhaps in better hands, jokes about such subjects could be made at least shocking, but the movie is so mean-spirited, so eager to offend, so lazy, and so—dare I say—morally bankrupt, that shock doesn't even become a factor after a while.

That the whole thing starts off so relatively innocently is perplexing. It begins with a self-deprecating opening narration by Tom Stansfield (Ashton Kutcher) as we follow someone trying to catch the subway. For some reason, the person the camera follows isn't Tom, an awkward attempt at playing with the audience's expectations. Anyway, Tom works in publishing and hasn't been able to get anywhere on the ladder of success. He has a mad crush on Lisa Taylor (Tara Reid) but finds himself unable to speak to her without making a fool of himself. He has a meeting with his boss Jack Taylor (Terence Stamp—if he needed the money, he should have just told us), Lisa's father. Jack is a malicious employer, but Tom gets through the meeting all right, except for being the impetus for Jack's firing of his new receptionist Audrey (Molly Shannon). Somehow, Tom mistakenly finds himself bird-sitting Jack's depressed pet owl (which looks insultingly fake too many times) instead of going out on a date with Lisa. As the night progresses, Tom must endure the high jinks of a swarm of house guests and recover the owl before Jack returns home.

Up until the visitors arrive, the movie avoids offensive content (save for an insult and spiel from Jack about the mentally challenged) but starts down the path of annoying dramatic structure. Dorfman's script is a lethargic attempt at a feature-length sitcom that tries to put Tom in as many wacky situations as possible. The actors play it too low-key for the material to gain any momentum, and it crashes quickly after. After a few lame and late O.J. Simpson jokes, Audrey arrives at the house with her abusive boyfriend. When he hits her, it's kept offscreen so as to lessen the impact and set up the possibility for a joke about open-handed slaps counting. Eventually, the idiot leaves, and Audrey gets to throw in one-liners about Native Americans (thieves and drunks, she says) and calls her black companion "colored," a sentiment that is far too ignorant and ugly to be tolerated anymore. We might be able to accept this if it was solely based in Audrey's character, but Dorfman doesn't just stop there.

We're soon introduced to Lisa's boyfriend Hans (Kenan Thompson), who is African-American and noticeably overweight. Tom is surprised when he meets Hans, who is upset by the reaction. By having Hans concentrate on his weight, Dorfman pretends to be smart by playing with the audience's—supposedly racist—expectations, which in reality is displaying an inadvertent racism on Dorfman's part. Later when his character is asked to sit at the back of the bus (albeit because he's smoking at the time), the idea is solidified. It's when Audrey's black friend, who we later learn is unemployed and consequently impoverished, begins to drink cleaning solution and eat dirt that Dorfman's prejudice becomes malignant. Before that, though, Dorfman insists on continuing the misogyny displayed by the abuse gag by presenting a young woman with a bleeding head wound, who insists that she is too ugly to win a boyfriend. She makes a comment about a man at a truck stop who wanted to rape her as an exception. The joke is in bad taste the first time around, but it's soon expanded upon and becomes reprehensible.

I haven't seen such irresponsible filmmaking in a long time. I am left literally shaking with anger by its sensibilities and stunned to disbelief that it was released with a PG-13 rating. The only real credit I can give My Boss's Daughter is that there is a boss and his daughter. Otherwise, it's a despicable, vile piece of garbage and proof positive that the MPAA ratings board is a worthless entity, devoid of any logic and reason.

Copyright © 2003 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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