January 19, 2004 09:55 AM

Now who’s “Punk’d”?

Sporting a mustache and a bright white cowboy hat — and Demi Moore — Ashton Kutcher attended Saturday night’s Sundance Film Festival premiere of his psychological thriller “The Butterfly Effect.”

And while the crowd reportedly loved getting a look at Kutcher (Demi arrived in the 1,270-seat Eccles theater some 10 minutes after Ashton did), the critics didn’t even come close to loving the movie — or Kutcher’s performance in it.

But first, the good news: the reaction to seeing Kutcher. All eyes were on him, and, as USA Today reports, he acknowledged his arrival by saying to the mostly parka-clad audience: “They told me it was Sundance, and I had to dress up like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Now I’m standing here like (a jerk).”

Having been on the promotional trail for “Butterfly,” Kutcher, 25, has told reporters that he couldn’t turn down the role of a man haunted by some blocked experience he suffered in childhood, despite the fact “I do comedy out of choice. It’s fun to do. I like to make people laugh. I like to make people feel good.”

But his leap to drama isn’t bound to make too many people feel good, according to most reviewers at Sundance. In one example, Variety critic Todd McCarthy calls the movie (which opens to the public on Friday and played out of competition at Sundance) overcooked and somberly self-important.

The critic also unflatteringly compares Kutcher’s acting ability to what he considers the lackluster talents of Josh Hartnett.

In a word, ouch.

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