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May 19, 2009

Fletch's Film Review: Management

Just when you thought 41-year old Steve Zahn was through playing man-children, along comes the poorly-titled Management (it's taken from a line of dialogue that is neither important to the plot nor can be used to draw any parallels to the theme), featuring Zahn as the slacker kid of motel-owning parents (Fred Ward and Paris, Je 'taime's Margo Martindale). I should never complain about looking young myself, as Zahn has nearly 10 years on me and probably gets carded for buying Pez; it's no wonder he can't seem to escape these roles.

It's also a shame that he didn't escape this one in particular. He's not only playing a going-nowhere-fast character, but it's in a going-nowhere movie. The action picks up when Zahn's Mike spies a new guest at his parents' Kingman, AZ motel - Jennifer Aniston's Sue. Sue's in town on business and is minding her own when Mike decides to attempt to woo her. Desperate and unskilled with members of the opposite sex, Mike comes off as so doofy and helpless that Sue can't help but feel somewhat sorry for him, allowing him to grope her butt and later, inexplicably, sleeping with him.

It's at about this point that the film goes off the rails. We get why she humored him and let him touch her rump; she's bored in a small town, and despite his weak attempts at charming her, he's childlike and safe enough to play along. But actually entering into any sort of relationship with him? Not buying it. I don't care how emotionally stilted Sue might be, or how puppy-dog cute Mike might be as he follows (stalks) Sue around the country, or how much maturity and perspective Mike gains over the course of the film (it takes place over the course of several months), no rational woman would have given him a chance in the first place.

Let's suppose, though, that I could get over the Mike/Sue relationship. The film still plays out awkwardly, with its first and third acts (which are set mostly in Kingman) staged quietly and almost introspectively, and a second act that employs broad physical comedy, outlandish and bizarre behavior by its characters, and even a blink-and-you'll-miss-it (and maybe even if you don't bilnk) cameo from Josh Lucas as a skydiving teacher. It's like a Silly, Stupid sandwich made with Quirky, Sensitive bread.

On the bright side, though, the cast is appealing. Zahn, of course used to these roles, has the lovable loser role down pat, as is most funny when he's not asked to be too funny. Aniston, given little to do but look stressed, is clearly in Office Space "ok, yeah" mode. But as usual, I got the most joy out of the (relatively) little people: Fred Ward playing a quiet, frustrated guy still stuck in a war, Margo Martindale (Paris, Je t'aime) as Mike's doting mother, and Mark Boone Junior(Memento) as a pawn shop owner with a serious drawl.

Fletch's Film Rating:


4 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Management"

Farzan said...

Nice review Fletch, never knew Aniston was involved.

RIPE Creative said...

From now on, if she's in a movie I don't want to see it. She keeps ending up in crapola.

Fletch said...

I don't think Aniston's resume is nearly as bad as you make it out to be. It's not great, by any means, but she's no Kate Hudson, either. Office Space - excellent. She's the One - not great, but I like it. Bruce Almighty - meh, but she's barely in it. The Break Up - okay. Rock Star - okay. Friends with Money - pretty good. And I haven't seen Along Came Polly, Derailed, Rumor Has It, the Good Girl, Picture Perfect, Marley & Me...

Reel Whore said...

I'm thinking we'll never get this one here, but doesn't sound like I'm missing much.

"gets carded for buying Pez" - hilarious.