MANAGEMENT

BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
DECEMBER 17, 2011

“Management” is a low-budget wonder with a borderline big-budget cast. I am convinced that Jennifer Aniston can sell just about anything since her days on “Friends.” She’s gorgeous yet adorable, witty and intelligent, and in control. She displays these qualities in the film “Management,” but not to the degree that makes this film worthwhile.

Aniston plays Sue, a traveling art dealer who never comes off like she even has a job. Mike Flux (Steve Zahn) is a nighttime manager at his family’s motel (growing dad figure Fred Ward plays his father). For some reason, Sue succumbs to Mike’s misguided advances while staying at the motel, and the two hit it off. If that was the end of the story, I might be able to suspend my disbelief to believe it, but Mike then follows Sue to her hometown and confesses his love for her. And that’s where the film loses me. What follows is a subtle stalking dramedy with a miserable plot, including a stint at a Buddhist monastery.

The character dynamics could have quickly taken several different directions. The small saving grace of “Management” is that it often lands on the more successful options. Sue could have easily dismissed Mike when he turns up, but she falls for his child-like nature. Had Mike been played more creepily, the film would have been entirely hopeless; however, Steve Zahn controls his character as though he had played this role a million times. Mike could have easily come off as an unmotivated loser, but the director immediately bashes that notion by making Mike the one pursuing Sue, which is pivotal.

Even with a colorful cameo from Woody Harrelson as Sue’s rich boyfriend, “Management” is too many ideas wrapped in an uninteresting package. I am usually a massive fan of independent films, but “Management” comes off far too independent of having the attached superb cast. No matter the ensemble, I do not believe anyone could have saved this film. As unfortunate as it is for first-time director Stephen Belber to learn, some stories are better left untold.

RELEASE DATE
May 15, 2009

DIRECTOR
Stephen Belber

WRITTEN BY
Stephen Belber

STUDIO
Samuel Goldwyn Films

R
(for language)

COMEDY
DRAMA
ROMANCE
94 minutes

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Eric Edwards

COMPOSER
Mychael Danna
Rob Simonsen

EDITOR
Kate Sanford

CAST
Jennifer Aniston
Steve Zahn
Woody Harrelson
Fred Ward
Margo Martindale
James Hiroyuki Liao
Josh Lucas

PRODUCED BY
Sidney Kimmel
Wyck Godfrey
Marty Bowen
Jennifer Aniston
Kristin Hahn

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