Joel is one step away from selling his flavor extract factory and retiring to easy street when a freak workplace accident sets in motion a series of disasters that put his business and personal life in jeopardy.
Genres: Comedy; Running Time: 1 hr. 30 min.; Release Date: September 4th, 2009 (limited); MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual references and some drug use.
Starring: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck, J. K. Simmons
Directed by: Mike Judge
We watched this on DVD a couple of weeks ago, and it was reasonably good movie with several funny sub-plots. I watched this movie with Lay having no expectations whatsoever. I hadn’t seen the trailer and I didn’t know who was in it. The initial premise was interesting: a successful businessman in an odd industry wanting to sell up to be able to live a different life and spend more time with his wife.
With a few motion pictures and several television projects under his belt, Mike Judge has become the undisputed master of working man’s comedy. No matter the color of their, the characters created by Judge exist on the front-lines of American industry. Judge is content not to tug the heartstrings or rely on frequent hilarity as long as he is able to build the impression that the people on screen are an honest reflection of the co-worker to your right or the relative on your left.
The cast Judge has assembled is very good. Jason Bateman continues to display his mastery of portraying the straight man; playing effortlessly against the eccentricities of his oddball co-workers and the other peculiar people surrounding him. The scene-stealers here, though, are Ben Affleck, Clifton Collins Jr., J.K. Simmons and David Koechner. Affleck submits a wonderful performance as a bartender who believes Xanax is the cure for everything (including the common cold). The role tackled by Collins Jr. is one dimensional on paper, but the actor’s performance provides the character with depth and humanity. J.K. Simmons appears to relish the opportunity to play Joel’s business partner and is given several killer lines to play with, while Koechner nails the part as the annoying, talkative, socially awkward neighbour. Mila Kunis (best known as the voice of Meg Griffin in Family Guy) is well-suited to the role of Cindy; she’s required to look ridiculously hot as she goes about her business of tricking the men she encounters, and she pulls it off. The music store scene is especially funny.
Judge places an interesting and funny film that doesn’t seem to be interested in finishing,or filling out the characters and/or situations of the story,and thus falls short of previous efforts(Office Space and Idiocracy). Practically every character besides Joel is left open-ended: the wife,the injured worker in question,the unctuous neighbor played by David Koechner and the grifter hottie. Certainly a quick comedy that plays for absurd events that mull out of mundane occurrences is probably going to have one-dimensional characters,but it still feels like this film was somewhat hurried. A little more exposition and maybe an awkwardly pinned ending might’ve improved the quality of this film.
Still,the lines and some of the performances–the guy who plays the stutlifyingly dumb young hustler hired to seduce Joel’s wife is particularly mint,complimenting Affleck’s inspired turn–make this movie easily enjoyable. Certainly no Oscar contenders here, but it was kind of a fun movie, and worth the time watching it.