After a summer of being plastered on every magazine cover this side of the Economist, enjoying a splashy tabloid romance with Demi Moore and scoring a modest hit with "Just Married" earlier this year, Ashton Kutcher has become a face to be reckoned with.
His high exposure makes it all the more odd that Dimension Films has consigned Kutcher's new film, "My Boss's Daughter," to the literal dog days of August, and because it was unavailable for pre-release preview, "Daughter" gets lumped in with another orphaned film, "Marci X," on the cinematic slag heap of Monday morning reviews.
The thing is, "My Boss's Daughter" is not awful. It is a genial youth comedy that serves Kutcher well as a vehicle. That's it. That's all it tries to be.
The film provides the actor no challenges to move to another level, but neither will it disappoint his fans, as he casually switches from his usually befuddled-but-sensitive self to more of a sensitive-but-befuddled persona.
As Tom Stansfield, a lowly researcher at a publishing company, Kutcher becomes smitten with the daughter of the firm's head, Jack Taylor, played with cold, steely calm by Terence Stamp.
Tom feels he could perform better in a more creative role but is intimidated by Jack. The daughter, Lisa, also works for the company but, like Tom, finds her artistic impulses stifled. The role is played by Tara Reid, with whom it is easy to become smitten but who must be tired of playing object-of-affection roles.
A series of misunderstandings leads to Tom housesitting for the Taylors, while Jack goes away on business and Lisa attends a party. His main charge is caring for Jack's prize owl, O.J.
"Like the murderer?" asks Tom. "No, like the football player," replies Jack. (This is the first of way too many jokes on a gag that expired in 1995.)
Once ensconced in the Taylor home, Tom is besieged with uninvited guests. Red Taylor (Andy Richter), Jack's son and, unknown to Tom, the subject of a restraining order, stops by to borrow the TV Guide and drop off an ominous package.
Molly Shannon turns up as a receptionist Tom inadvertently got fired. Michael Madsen does a riff on the psychopaths he's played in such movies as "Reservoir Dogs" (come to think of it, there is a gag about an ear).
Inevitably, O.J. gets loose; Shannon's character Audrey enlists some friends (two of whom are Carmen Electra) to help locate the AWOL owl; Lisa's distraught boyfriend arrives to hang out; and the house is basically destroyed.
Tom must attempt to pull everything back together before Jack returns, which, obviously, will happen earlier than it was supposed to.
Maybe he should have never gone on that trip, because Stamp is sorely missed. The actor brings a dead earnestness to the early scenes, giving throwaway lines a sort of sadistic gravitas that yields the movie's biggest laughs but creates a vacuum when he is off-screen. Regrettably, when he does return, the air seems to have been let out of his performance, grounding him with the rest of the cast for the predictable finale.
Directed by David Zucker of "Airplane" fame (and the upcoming "Scary Movie 3") and written by David Dorfman ("Anger Management"), the film thankfully reaches back to pre-Farrelly brothers levels of raunch.
That's not to say it isn't crass, only that the vulgarities are more "Bachelor Party" than "Dumb and Dumberer."
It's too early to tell whether Kutcher is the Rob Lowe or the Andrew McCarthy of his generation, and although he has reportedly passed on a sequel to "Dude, Where's My Car?," he'll be cashing residual checks from "That '70s Show" for years and also hosts a popular MTV prankster show called "Punk'd." While the jury is still out on Kutcher, who hasn't proved he can act, he's yet to show he can't.
'My Boss's Daughter'MPAA rating: PG-13 for crude and sex-related humor, drug content and languageTimes guidelines: Gross-out comedy with an '80s sensibilityCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Ashton Kutcher...Tom Stansfield
Tara Reid...Lisa Taylor
Terence Stamp...Jack Taylor
Molly Shannon...Audrey Bennett
Andy Richter...Red Taylor A Gil Netter production, a John Jacobs production, released by Dimension Films. Director David Zucker. Producers Gil Netter, John Jacobs. Executive producers Paddy Cullen, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Andrew Rona, Brad Weston. Screenplay by David Dorfman. Cinematographer Martin McGrath. Editors Patrick Lussier, Sam Craven. Costume designer Daniel Orlandi. Music Teddy Castellucci. Production designer Andrew Laws. Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes. In general release