This is one of those movies that didn't turn out as bad as I expected, though it wasn't that good either. Apparently, the film was shelved in the year 2000, and they decided to finally release it due to the popularity of Ashton Kutcher--especially with his recent affair with Demi Moore. I still think that was just a publicity stunt, but let's not get into that.
In the film, Ashton works for an irritable boss (Terence Stamp), who fires his employees at the drop of a hat. To schmooze his boss and hopefully get close to his hot daughter (Tara Reid), Ashton agrees to housesit for him one night.
Aside from having to make sure there's not a scratch on any of the furniture, he also finds out that his daughter's going to a party and not throwing it at her house. He expects to spend a boring night alone...until some very unexpected visitors show up, including drug dealers, obnoxious co-workers and even his daughter--who just dumped her boyfriend and ditched the party. Now, Ashton's goal is to win her over, while making sure these unexpected visitors don't destroy the house completely and cost him a job!
I was surprised to discover that this film was actually directed by David Zucker. Yes, the man who brought us "Airplane" and "The Naked Gun" movies. I wouldn't even dream to put this film in the same category as those comic gems, since some of the gags were done with amazingly sloppy timing.
Still, I was laughing through a good portion of this movie. The first 30 minutes had me laughing nonstop, mostly due to great English character actor Terence Stamp. His portrayal of the evil boss, though politically incorrect in the largest extent, is hilarious and he does it with exquisite comic timing. I think it was a good casting choice putting him in that role, because he doesn't go for silliness and simply plays the character straight, like it's one of his dramatic roles.
Once the film reaches that 30-minute mark, it goes into hit-or-miss territory. I still laughed intermittently, but the rest of the gags were dull and stale. One of the final scenes, which is reminiscent of a hilarious gag from "The Naked Gun 2 1/2," definitely had me rolling with laughter. However, part of what makes the scenes work is that I feel empathy towards Ashton when he tries hard to keep the house in order, and everyone else tries hard to keep it in disorder. I guess it's because I'm incredibly neurotic, and if I were in a similar situation where I was, say, watching my own house while my parents were away, I'd be panicking worse than him.
The love story between Ashton and Tara never really takes flight. In fact, it's part of what makes the film lag. It resorts to the usual
clichés of the two of them having a nice little chat, finding out they have a lot in common and for that reason they decide they're made for each other. Then she catches him massaging two girls' breasts to check them for cancer, in an incredibly contrived attempt to have her sob and think twice about their relationship.
The cast is full of talented performers. Ashton proves he makes a pretty good straight man, but some of his overreacting seems forced. The great Andy Richter is funny as Tara's drug-dealing brother. At least he got a decent role this time around, unlike the thankless role he played in "Big Trouble." Michael Madsen is also funny as Andy's drug-dealing associate. Molly Shannon has some nice moments as the boss' former secretary who got fired for making a bad cup of coffee. Even one of the Mitchell brothers (I forget if it's Kenan or Kel) from Nickelodeon has some funny moments as Tara's ex-boyfriend, whose running gag is the fact that people are surprised that he's black, but he assumes they're being prejudice because of his weight. Carmen Electra's only purpose in the cast is to do a slow-motion shot where she rises out of a pool in a wet T-shirt. And the problem is? Hey, this is not "Lawrence of Arabia." It's not like showing that is going to lower the film on the taste-meter.
I'd better recommend you wait until this comes out on video, though it's still not bad if you're desperate to see a movie. I would say what do you expect from a film starring Ashton Kutcher, but it also stars Terence Stamp and is directed by the man who brought us "Airplane." By any standards, it's still enjoyable.
2 1/2 out of 4 pops )
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