Last we heard in last year’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman Madea (Tyler Perry) was solving social cultural and familial problems. What a busy lady! Well she’s done gone and done it again after a whole new crop of problems pop up that need fixing. This time the conflicts revolve primarily around two sisters Vanessa (Lisa Arrindell Anderson) and Lisa (Rochelle Aytes) both of whom are wary of their financial-minded mother Victoria (Lynn Whitfield). Vanessa is deathly afraid to love again after her husband left her and two kids and fears she might’ve met Mr. Right in the form of a bus driver (Boris Kodjoe). Meanwhile Lisa is in a physically abusive relationship with Carlos (Blair Underwood) “Atlanta’s most eligible bachelor ” but is afraid to leave him. Madea the antithesis of gold-digging Victoria solves these and many more problems as the family reunion nears. After Mad Black Woman’s surprise box office take last year bigger names were less reluctant to sign on. Accordingly the new actors in Reunion are very solid—borderline stellar collectively. The lone exception is Perry as Madea (as well as a few other characters) whose over-the-topness although expected reduces the air of professionalism from the rest. Underwood is so damn good at being so damn bad as the abusive fiancée Carlos while Whitfield matches him chill for chill in a very icy performance. The relative unknowns/newcomers are the most pleasant surprises however. Aytes has breathtaking beauty that would normally overshadow acting but not here. Anderson whose last film was ‘95’s Clockers is equally beautiful and evocative as a single mother torn. And for the female eyes there’s Kodjoe whom girls will likely fall for even more when they learn he can actually act. Perry wears many hats in Family Reunion: writer director producer star--and oh yeah he also wrote the popular stage production from which the film is adapted. Perhaps Perry’s workaholic attitude contributes to the film’s thematic overkill. There are a number of kinks in the film’s completely uneven story and the way it is told but perhaps the biggest problem stems from the fact that it still feels like a stage play. Sometimes that’s a plus for a film but it’s hard to think it was intended. This feeling is elicited by the sum of the story’s parts. Perry will be in one scene telling the tale of a beleaguered battered woman amid a linear and conventional storyline and in the next scene become Madea in her cartoonish and campy getup dishing out her tough love techniques. No doubt Reunion is an enjoyable play--only if you agree with Perry’s comedic remedies for serious issues.
August 24, 2003 10:53am EST
Here are the awful facts: Ashton Kutcher plays Tom Stanisfield an apprehensive executive at a large publishing firm called Midnight Owl run by a ruthless megalomaniac who fires staff members for brewing a too-bitter batch of java. One day the boss's attractive daughter Lisa (Tara Reid) asks Tom to come over and babysit her father's pet owl so she can go to a party and he agrees misunderstanding that he has made a date with her. Poor Tom realizes the mix-up once he arrives at the mansion and is given instructions on how to care for the owl O.J. (named after the football player). He decides to go through with it anyway; after all a little butt kissing never hurt anyone right? Things quickly take a turn for the worse as one unwelcome visitor after another struts through the house: a drug dealer after the boss's son Red (Andy Richter) a neighbor with a gushing head wound from an accident (Ever Carradine) a former employer wanting her job back (Molly Shannon) to name a few. Oh and O.J. gets loose. The uninvited guests subsequently spend the entire movie crashing through tables and breaking antiques as they try to get the owl back while wimpy Tom stands at the center of it all pleading for everyone to "please leave."
My Boss's Daughter wrapped in June 2001 and for obvious reasons sat on a shelf for some time collecting dust over at Miramax. Perhaps the studio thought this would be a good time to capitalize on the popularity of Kutcher who is having a great year with his two series Fox's That '70s Show and the MTV prankster series Punk'd not to mention the commercial success of his last feature Just Married. What is so genuinely funny about Kutcher is that he delivers the stupidest lines with such earnestness that he is simply funny because he tries not to be. Here Kutcher outshines the material; his timing and delivery are on but the jokes just lack impact. It's sad to see such a truly funny actor stuck in such a truly bad movie. His co-star Reid looking a little over-baked is also a victim of this bad material. Remember her back when she impressed moviegoers with her performance as Bunny in the Coen brothers' 1998 comedy The Big Lebowski? While the actress has since shined in supporting roles that have overtly capitalized on her sexuality including Cruel Intentions and American Pie My Boss's Daughter is not clever enough to do that. Her character Lisa is supposedly a sharp businesswoman by day but by night she jumps up and down on her four-post bed while listening to the radio. Not even the talented supporting cast which includes Richter and Shannon draw laughs in this calamity of a movie.
With his younger brother Jerry and high school pal Jim Abrahams director David Zucker is responsible for helming a series of hilarious movies including the comedy Ruthless People and the spoofs Top Secret! and Airplane!. In 1988 Zucker helmed his first solo project The Naked Gun - From the Files of Police Squad! and its sequel but the quality of his material since has waned. His 1998 effort Baseketball was infantile and badly executed but My Boss's Daughter is just walk-out headache-inducing bad. The jokes are so lame that moviegoers will know the outcome before they even happen. Does scribe David Dorfman who penned the box office topper Anger Management expect the audience to laugh at the series of hackneyed sight gags like a mouse running up Tom's pant leg? And Zucker's trademark urination jokes only doom this comedy further. In one scene for example an intruder asserts his vigor by pissing all over the living room. Unless you are a three-year-old wrestling with the pressures of potty training how is that funny? There is also a weird and pointless running gag about characters saying benign things that then get misconstrued as racially biased. Let's just hope Zucker has better tricks up his sleeve for his upcoming spoof Scary Movie 3.