Opening 4 Jun 2009
Writing credits: Steve Conrad
Principal actors: Seann William Scott, Chris Conrad, John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Lili Taylor
Doug Stauber (Seann William Scott) works in a Chicago mall, putting stock on shelves and protecting the parking lot against young thugs who enjoy harassing the customers. He looks forward to a major promotion; his young wife Jen (Jenna Fischer) is proud and encouraging. His fortune changes when Richard Wehlner (John C. Reilly) comes south from Canada to work at the same mall. Doug is no longer a “shoo-in” (his word) for the choice new manager job. The two men warily feint for a final knockout – figuratively speaking. Doug listens to motivational tapes.
Contrary to my expectations, this is not slapstick comedy, which I assumed simply due to the participation of Reilly. The action moves slowly and is often repetitive and low key. The ending was a surprise, perhaps because it was realistic. I was moved to criticize the two men as being full of existential angst about an unimportant job. My male colleagues said they could definitely identify with Doug and Teddy; it’s not easy being a man, taking responsibility for a family, and hitting up against daily resistance. This is a small film about familiar people who are trying to cope day by day. I learned what “cutting the cheese” means, and it’s not about a knife in the dairy department. (Becky Tan)