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Jul 7, 2008

Fletch's Mini Film Review: The Promotion

Steve Conrad's The Promotion is the Alexander Payne film that Payne never made. Only, had he, it would have most likely been a better film than The Promotion ended up being.

The Promotion has all the ingredients of your typical Payne film (Election, About Schmidt, Citizen Ruth): voice-over narration, quirky characters, Midwest setting (substituting the Chicago suburbs for Payne's usual Omaha), mix of comedy and drama. Heck, we even get indie darling Lili Taylor sporting a seemingly unnecessary Scottish brogue. But something about it just doesn't add up - just as in Election, we have a number of leads that aren't worth rooting for. However, where you cared about Tracy Flick and Mr. McAllister, you don't care about Doug (Seann William Scott) or Richard (John C. Reilly), a pair of assistant managers at a grocery store vying for a manager spot at a new location.

The film alternately tries to endear you to each man (and his family), but each is shown to be equally guilty and undeserving of the titular promotion. This setup would be fine had the filmmakers decided to really let the two battle it out, but instead it's one step forward, two steps back, as they attempt to win you over with each character just as soon as they've showed you the darkness within them. It's a mixture that ends up leaving you without a protagonist, an antagonist, or a care about which really is which, if any.

Jenna Fischer, Gil Bellows, Fred Armisen, and Jason Bateman co-star.

Fletch's Film Rating:


5 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Mini Film Review: The Promotion"

Fox said...

I completely agree with your assessment of this movie. I had some laughs here and there, but when it was over I felt kind of mixed up over what just happened.

Also, on Lili Taylor, I had a hard time figuring out if I was supposed to be laughing at her accent or not. I DID laugh, but was it supposed to be funny? I'm not sure...

Fletch said...

Thanks, Fox.

Yeah, I didn't think it was either dramatic or comedic enough (or at least, not funny enough). It seemed to be in need of a stronger sense of direction.

I'm not sure on Taylor, either. It was bizarre, to be sure. I could only figure that, since this is an original work (Conrad wrote it as well) that the character was based on a real person. If that's the case, why get Taylor? If that's not the case, why have/let Taylor pull a Scottish accent out of nowhere? Considering the size of the role, why not just get a Scottish actress, or at least someone not so familiar (and therefore distracting) to audiences?

WaywardJam said...

I think I'll be skipping this one...even if Bateman's in it. Thanks for the warning.

Fletch said...

Don't sweat it, Wayne. Bateman's barely in it...

Daniel G. said...

Yes! This is the second lukewarm review I've seen from a trusted source. Now I can be fully OK that I decided to skip it.

On paper, you'd think this would have been much better.