Sunday, May 31, 2009


Management manages to be a slightly enjoyable, sweet and quirky romantic comedy.

Just barely.

The problem certainly isn't in the cast. Steve Zahn serves up his usual lovable goof. He's a loopy Lloyd Dobler--from his "Feel Like Makin' Love" serenade outside love interest Sue's house to his awkward admission that what he really wants is just to be with her. Now, a seventeen year-old Lloyd Dobler is adorable. But thirty-seven year old Lloyd Dobler, stalking his love across country, is just a wee bit creepy.

Jennifer Aniston does much better with these wry indie roles than the big budget vehicles. Her uptight, control-freak Sue is brittle yet fragile. And then there was Woody Harrelson as Sue's ex-punk yogurt-mogul boyfriend Jango. Harrelson nails the role, but the problem was not in his performance but in the fact that the character existed at all.

There's no way that the uptight Sue--with rigidly set guidelines that prevent her from accepting Mike's affection--would ever be with Jango. This is one of the issues I had with the script. The others were that the story meandered over the course of several months, as aimless as the arrested development of lead character Mike. You could also "see" the writing. Set-ups and pay-offs were clunky and obvious. Expositiory deathbed speeches. Deadend scenes. Quirk for the sake of quirk.

Where writer/director Stephen Belber really missed the boat was in not really developing the true through-line: these two extremely lonely people desperate for human contact meeting and sparking by chance.

The best part of the film was James Liao as Al, Mike's partner in crime in stealing Sue's heart. Liao almost steals the entire movie--and would have had he been given any more screen time.

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