REVIEW: Get a Job

9 09 2016

get-a-jobDylan Kidd’s “Get a Job” shot in 2012 but did not see release until 2016 – a four-year gap that did not serve the film well. Rather than an imperfect snapshot of its moment, the “comedy” now plays like a period piece of the recent past. This story of recent college graduates’ rocky entrance into the professional world appears completely oblivious to the kind of pain present in the post-recession economic landscape.

Miles Teller’s Will Davis heads to what he thinks is the first day of work at LA Weekly after years of “building [his] brand” … only to find himself shuffled out the door unceremoniously. In what could play as an “Up in the Air”-style ironic twist (which would have been perfect given the presence of Anna Kendrick), he ends up putting his filmic skills to work creating video résumés at an executive placement firm. Sign of the times? Not really, mostly just a setting where his creative millennial mindset can clash with the stodgy virtues of the company.

The job really only starts to take a topical turn when Will’s dad, Roger (Bryan Cranston), begins to require their services. Despite being a thirty year company man, Roger finds himself looking for a new line of work at the same time as his son. Again, Kidd has another opportunity for topicality through a character displaced in an economy that values ruthless efficiency over loyalty. Still … nothing.

“Get a Job” has a wide ensemble, too, each with their own occupational hazards. Will’s girlfriend Jillian (Kendrick) takes on a position at stalwart P&G that seems sure to launch her career into the corporate stratosphere – until it doesn’t. He also shares a pad with three other pals, each of which trod fairly traditional routes: finance (Brandon T. Jackson’s Luke), education (Nicholas Braun’s Charlie) and start-ups (Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Ethan). Kidd fashions them as a “Knocked Up” gang of harmless manchildren existing irrespective of time, but their activities suggest that they are really just schlubby stoners who can barely be bothered to turn off their video games.

The message imparted through their turbulent launches into the “real world” is neither timeless nor timely. Perhaps that is par for the course from a film that shrugs off any responsibility to say anything about the world we inhabit. The milieu of “Get a Job” is one where characters can barely achieve any professional success and still sit around slacking off and dreaming big in a cushy bungalow. The characters suggest a celebration of the millennial mindset while the plot gives it a rebuke. Kidd doesn’t send mixed messages, though. Just incoherent, half-baked ones. C2stars





REVIEW: The Five-Year Engagement

3 12 2012

Almost every comedy features a supporting cast of hilarious actors who can always be wheeled in front a camera to produce laughs.  Unlike the romantic leads, who have to undergo a journey and serve plot functions, these characters can literally be poorly developed and have little motivations of their own – and no one minds as long as they make us chortle in delight.

The Five-Year Engagement” does a very peculiar thing with its characters.  Tom and Violet, the betrothed played by Jason Segel and Emily Blunt doomed to suffer the titular delay, are the ones who suffer from the pratfalls of the supporting characters.  Sure, the two have chemistry and are fun to watch.  But it’s Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, both of whom could charm a dishwasher into marrying them!

I definitely enjoyed the two of them in their playful engagement bliss and when they got into tough arguments; however, they got upstaged, outdrawn, and outshown in a major way by the couple that was supposed to be a comic relief and foil.  Guess that means directors need to think twice before they cast the uproarious Chris Pratt (who steals every “Parks and Recreation” episode these days) and dynamic Alison Brie (who I’ve heard is just as good on “Community”).

Pratt plays Tom’s best friend Alex, who is of course the usual Pratt goofball (unless we are talking “Moneyball“).  At the engagement party, he meets Brie’s sharp-tongued Suzie … who also happens to be Violet’s sister.  The two have quite a night, and very quickly, a very different kind of wedding is on the horizon.  A shotgun wedding.

Alex and Suzie provide most of the humor for Nicholas Stoller’s “The Five-Year Engagement” because of Pratt and Brie’s immense comedic capabilities.  Yet they also carry most of the heart of the film, too.  As Stoller’s running commentary on how hard marriage really is no matter how long and hard you’ve worked on it, I started rooting for them and becoming more emotionally invested in the two of them.  Perhaps it’s because the marathon length of the film left me craving Alex or Suzie to get back on screen, but I think it was really just me wishing someone would make one of these movies with Chris Pratt as the leading man.  B