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Thursday, Aug. 28, 2003 02:20 pm

Movie Reviews

My Boss's Daughter & Le Divorce

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Le Divorce

My Boss's Daughter

Tick . . . tick . . . tick . . .

That's the sound of Ashton Kutcher's 15 minutes of fame quickly (and mercifully) reaching an end. With two hit television series (including the MTV reality show Punk'd), a high-profile romance with 40-something Demi Moore, and the threat of more important movie leads in the future (including Cameron Crowe's next film), Kutcher is Hollywood's current Flavor of the Month. Perhaps "Flavor of the Hour" is a more apt description.

Kutcher made his name playing "The Dumb Guy" on the Fox sitcom That '70s Show. You wouldn't think playing the Dumb Guy would be much of an acting challenge; Kutcher is easily the least talented member of that cast, stumbling over his lines like a rank amateur. I've never seen him do anything that made me believe he's leading-man material.

Granted, this bumbling screwball comedy from Dimension Films wouldn't be funny no matter who was playing the lead. Sloppily written by David Dorfman (Anger Management) and staidly directed by the once-great David Zucker (who with his brother Jerry and Jim Abrahams delivered Airplane! and Kentucky Fried Movie), My Boss's Daughter is a tasteless and illogical hodge-podge of yelling, falling, and urinating, all in the name of unrestrained hilarity.

Kutcher plays Tom, a nice-guy researcher at a Chicago publishing company who has aspirations of doing something more with his life. Unfortunately, his boss, Jack Taylor (Terence Stamp), is the world's most insufferable bastard, ruling his office through fear. Tom has a crush on Taylor's sexy blonde daughter Lisa, who is played schizophrenically by Tara Reid as both a serious businesswoman and a vapid teenybopper. When Tom shows up at the Taylor's suburban home to take Lisa to a party, he's chagrined to learn that he's actually been enlisted to housesit for his boss. In Dorfman and Zucker's cascading carousel of confusion, one misunderstanding leads to another, which results in a houseful of uninvited guests, including Lisa's drug-dealing older brother (Andy Richter), Taylor's biker-chick ex-secretary (Molly Shannon), a mumbling mobster, and an insecure young woman whose idea of getting ready for a blind date does not include cleaning her bloody head wound.

Very little of this is funny. Kutcher possesses neither the charisma nor the comic timing to serve as the anchor needed to ground all the surrounding nonsense. What this film needs is someone like News Radio's Dave Foley (who actually plays a supporting role here) or even Kutcher's '70s Show cohort Topher Grace, both experts at comic reaction who can play the nice guy. There's a reason Kutcher is best known as the Dumb Guy. (MM)

(Running time 1:25, rated PG-13)
Grade D+
Parkway Pointe

 

Le Divorce

This Merchant-Ivory adaptation of Diane Johnson's novel will do little to help heal the strained relationship between the United States and France. Nor will it satisfy filmgoers looking for something entertaining and witty.

Sisters Roxeanne and Isabel (Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson) are two Americans awash in French culture and feeling a bit superior to it. That's before Roxeanne's husband, Charles (Melvil Poupaud), unexpectedly leaves her when she's pregnant. Distraught, she tracks him down and finds him with a married woman--his new "soul mate." Adding insult to injury, a lawyer tells her the French courts will be far more lenient toward Charles in regards to property settlements. This means Roxanne might lose a valuable painting she owned prior to the marriage. Meanwhile, the painting has attracted the interest of Charles' mother (Leslie Caron), a well-mannered but ruthless woman.

Meanwhile, Isabel is getting her own crash course on French men. She becomes involved with Charles's uncle Edgar (Thierry Lhermitte), a suave politico who's much older and collects mistresses. The young woman is smitten by the attention of this cultured gent but misses the social cues that indicate she's a kept woman.

The sisters' parents (Sam Waterson and Stockard Channing) soon show up to care for their daughters and make sure the family painting doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Assuming the role of the ugly American is Matthew Modine, who plays the husband of the woman Charles is having the affair with. He's a neurotic, dangerous man out of place in this film.

You'd have to go a long way to find a more talented crew, yet it's far too mannered when it should be more down and dirty. I bet the French love it. (CK)

(Running time 1:55, rated PG-13)
Grade C+
White Oaks

What other critics are saying . . .

American Wedding A comic weekend wedding, complete with bachelor party. "The grossest, least funny--and, here's hoping, the last--installment in the American Pie series." (Manhola Dargis, Los Angeles Times) Parkway Pointe, Showplace

Bruce Almighty Jim Carrey is granted sovereignty over his hometown by God. "A smart, surprisingly thought-through blockbuster, with a decent grasp of the theological implications of its idea." (Nev Pierce, BBCi) "A fable overwhelmed by special effects and outsized spectacle." (Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times) Esquire

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle The crime-fighting trio returns. "One of the most exhausting good-time movies ever made. As insistent as it is skillful--and it is very skillful--it does all it can to pound you into enjoying yourself." (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times) "Angels is so much like a feature-length cartoon that you may find yourself sitting through the end credits waiting to see who provided the voices for the, if you'll pardon the expression, characters." (Elvis Mitchell, New York Times) Chuck Koplinski's grade: F. Esquire

Finding Nemo Animated underwater tale. "Visual imagination and sophisticated wit." (Stephen Holden, New York Times) " Finding Nemo smacks of looky-what-I-can-do virtuosity, and after the first 10 minutes or so, it's exhausting." (Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com) Chuck grade: A. Rt. 66 Drive In

Freaky Friday Remake of 1976 comedy in which a mother and daughter switch identities. "A funny, shrewd, no-bull family comedy." (Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly) Showplace, White Oaks

Freddy Vs. Jason Horror sequels merge. "A tediously ghastly genre pic." (Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer) "The action is lovingly lurid, and the laughs keep coming." (Bruce Westbrook, Houston Chronicle) Chuck's grade: C. Parkway Pointe, Showplace

The Italian Job Remake of 1969 caper movie. "This is a snazzy piece of filmmaking: fluid but wittily syncopated; stylish without appearing to expend undue effort." (David Edelstein, Slate) "Don't expect much more . . . than a pleasant workout." (David Denby, The New Yorker) Showplace

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life "Emerges as just one more formulaic action film as the title character bounces around the globe in a deadly treasure hunt." (Dave Kehr, New York Times) Marty McKee's grade: B. Rt. 66 Drive In

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 19th Century literary heroes come back to life. "The picture's violence is a snore and its massacres are soporific. . . it's an extraordinary waste of time." (Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune) "It works wonderfully as a popcorn picture." (Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel) Marty grade: B. Esquire

Marci X A Congresswoman goes after a rapper's new and explicit record. "The actors had little to work with in this passe social satire, but sharper performances might have saved Marci from total humorless ruin." (Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune) White Oaks

Matrix: Reloaded Reality against computer simulations in a future world. "What the film lacks, among other things, is anything truly human. The planed, pristine features of Keanu Reeves seem as computer-generated as the creatures he fights." (Phillip French, The Observer) "A relentless love of movies, junk-food mythology, and thoughtful reimagining of a future endangered by mass consumption . . . makes for a heady and unusual mix." (Elvis Mitchell, New York Times) Chuck's grade: C. Esquire

Open Range Western about cowboys fighting a greedy capitalist. "A ponderous drag." (A.O. Scott, New York Times) "A juicy, character-driven western with a real plot that spins a hypnotic narrative." (Rex Reed, New York Observer) Chuck's grade: B+. Showplace, White Oaks

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Johhny Depp is a pirate. "The most high-flying, jaw-dropping special effect of the summer is . . . Johnny Depp." (Ty Burr, Boston Globe) Chuck's grade: B+. Parkway Pointe, Showplace

Seabiscuit The horse, its jockey, and the men who made them famous. "A Depression underdog saga, the movie also is standout alternative programming to an oft-deadly sequel summer." (Mike Clark, USA Today) Chuck's grade: A. Parkway Pointe

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over "Frontrunner for 2003's most mindless and physically offensive movie-going experience." (Nicholas Schager, Slant) "The Spy Kids movies have allowed [director Robert] Rodriguez to exercise his playful muscles, and the new one is no exception." (Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune) Chuck's grade: B+. White Oaks

S.W.A.T. Film version of the old television show. "Best suited for audiences who don't mind being pummeled into submission." (Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune) "Offers up the kind of pleasures that only a summer movie can." (Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post) Parkway Pointe, Showplace

Uptown Girls Snobby young woman takes care of cute little girl. "There's nothing wrong with Uptown Girls that not seeing it won't fix." (Stephen Hunter, Washington Post). "[A] standard variation of the princess myth." (Stephen Holden, New York Times) Showplace

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