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Management
Genre Comedy
Year: 2009
 
Review:

Management is an oddball romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston, Steve Zahn and Woody Harrelson. The cast have had their fair share of ups and downs in Hollywood... but that's enough about their private lives. Aniston revisits her role from The Good Girl to produce another decent performance in this off-kilter "romcom". She's the main draw card amid a crest of familiar faces. Steve Zahn takes the spotlight, although as the title and movie poster suggests, he plays second fiddle to one of Hollywood's most powerful celebrities... to have starred in Friends.

Before you start thinking Office Space, you should know that Management has got nothing to do with red staplers. In fact, the film has got more in common with Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho with Steve Zahn playing the creepy "touchy-feely" motel kid. After several inappropriate complimentary wine and champagne in plastic bathroom cup motel room visits, Mike (Zahn) develops a schoolboy crush for Sue (Aniston - who can blame him), a traveling motel art saleswoman. When Sue takes full advantage of the area code rule, Mike falls head over heels in love and decides that he's got no other option but to stalk her like Ben Stiller in There's Something About Mary.

Okay, it's not as awkward, gross or demented as that epic Farrelly brothers movie... but poor old Mike can't take a hint - even if it buys him a ticket and sends him packing! Perhaps that's what makes him so sweet and harmless. Sue is too kind to blow him off (no!), and opts for the "distance" pen pal kind of relationship. The whole cat-and-mouse game has a few strands from The Wedding Singer with the zany romance and the impending wedding obstacles, but doesn't boast the same chemistry between the leads as one would expect from a Sandler/Barrymore encounter. Then there are a few instances that recall movies like New in Town and Punch Drunk Love with the bland mix of reality, comedy, romance and drama.

Management is disarming in its playful charms and gently draws the audience in with its sweet, unpredictable story, low key comedy and touching moments. Thankfully, it's not sappy enough to make you think of puppy dogs and soft fluffy pink things. Woody Harrelson's ex-punk extended cameo helps to stablise the mushy with a healthy dose of macho... (thankfully, nothing like Anger Management).

Management's biggest mistake is probably wrapped up in its marketing and title. Zahn's involvement as the male suitor makes it look like another half-ass attempt at Saving Silverman, which was pretty lame. The title and poster suggests that Aniston is wearing the pants and Zahn is taking orders, but it's a complete misrepresentation. The only inkling of truth is the poster's subtitle, "A Touching Comedy", because that's exactly what it is... literally and figuratively. The comedy is unexpectedly funny and it'll surprise you with its range of affectionate, awkward and silly humour. The performances are a little wobbly in the beginning as the characters suss each other out, but things gradually pick up after initial introductions and as Management hits its groove. Although, to be honest, this hiccup could be attributed to the directorial debut from playwright-turn-screenwriter Stephen Belber.

Zahn still has some work to do before he becomes a true lead - but this performance shows a lot of promise. Aniston is still rock solid... (in the acting and posterior department) and applies this trait to her character, who seems distant and a little disconnected from it all. Harrelson provides yet another comic extreme with his star power. Fred Ward (the every man hillbilly) pulls himself up by his boot straps, and TV actor James Hiroyuki Liao makes a hilarious feature film debut as Al.

Management may not have the makings of a truly great romantic comedy, or even a cult classic - but it's still entertaining in all its inadequacy. The script jingles along at a merry pace after a fairly sluggish start and the new settings, zany characters, charming performances and heartwarming moments all add up to a positive movie experience. Management is a great first/last date movie, which is entertaining enough to talk about later and easy enough to let it wash over you. If you can handle romantic comedies with a comic twist, then you should have a laugh with Steve Zahn and Jennfier Aniston's butt... that's right, I said butt.

The bottom line: Fun.


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