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The Promotion - Movie Review - a heart warming office satire

Category: , , , By Manu
I'll come clean right from the start. I saw this movie expecting an all out comedy that gives no respect to story but just fun. I had no idea who were behind this movie, just saw Sean William Scott and John C. Reilly and with their reputation I expected another "Employee of the Month". I was in for a surprise, which I came to know only after finishing the movie, that the movie was written and directed by Steve Conrad(yeah that's right Pursuit of Happyness).

At 33, Doug Stauber is ready for a promotion. He's married, wants to buy a house, and is assistant manager at a Chicago supermarket that's building a new store in his neighborhood. His boss tells him he's a shoe in to manage the new store, then, a rival appears - Richard Wehlner, transferred from Canada. Richard has a deeper resume than Doug, is really nice, has a wife and daughter, and wants the promotion to manager, too. How should Doug behave toward Richard - as a friend, a colleague, a competitor, or an enemy? Richard, it seems, has demons and a past, but with the help of motivational tapes, he's resolved to succeed. Corporate and personal tests await the two men

Do not watch this movie expecting another "Pursuit of Happyness" but instead go in with no expectations whatsoever and you may well like this movie, as I did. This movie had all the ingredients to make a silly one-upmanship no better than Employee of the Month, but writer/director chooses a totally alternate and much more lovable path. Its a fresh change to see a movie that satires something but still keep in touch with the reality of the world.

In the movie both the characters have their own problems and situations to compete for the new job. Doug(Sean William Scott) with his dream of moving out of their cramped apartment with paper-thin walls and into a new house and Richard(John C. Reilly) a recovering drug addict who has moved from Canada with his wife and daughter to make a living. Both of them are nice guys who are forced into a game of one-upmanship for the sole spot as the full manager at the new store. The writer shows both the character treading on the grey area but still we find ourselves rooting for Doug, who is a painfully nice guy who really needs the promotion.

Sean William Scott, the guy who made Stifler famous, is a totally different character altogether. Ever since American Pie, I've loved this guy though he didn't get many good roles after American Pie(Evolution is one of his better roles). But this is a role in which he could show off his subtle comedic talents and he is great. I can almost say this is his career best outing yet. Scott reins his goofy grin into something slightly rigid and almost panicked. John C. Reilly, whom I absolutely hated after watching Step Brothers, regained some points in my book with a complicated role which he played with subtlety. We feel sorry for both the characters and forgive their antics with a warm hearted nod of the head. Some of the most funny bits come from Jenna Fischer, Doug's incredibly sweet and supportive wife in the movie, with her one line remarks about their neighbor's "banjo" playing

Steve Conrad is definitely a better writer than a Director. The movie's writing and acting was pretty good but the direction was pretty ordinary. There is not one scene that impressed me visually. He stumbles a bit but still doesn't drop the ball delivering a fine ending. If someone other than him directed the movie this would have been a much more enjoyable experience than it is now.

My Verdict- It's been a long time since I've seen a comedy that balances broad farce and actual humanity with such wit, warmth, and weirdness. It's not as raunchy as the (awesome) stuff from the Apatow crew, and it's not as endearingly artsy as Wes Anderson's (also awesome) films, but The Promotion is a supremely satisfying little mixture of festival-flick "smallness" and big-budget "funny". When it comes to comedies about corporate gamesmanship and career assassination, The Promotion doesn't blaze any trails. What makes this film worthwhile is its willingness to display the protagonists as decent human beings despite their dog-eat-dog circumstances. There are enough laughs to justify it being labeled as a comedy but a stronger storyline than one normally associates with this kind of film. It's an enjoyable diversion amidst the big guns of summer.

DVDs are available to buy at Amazon. Get it now
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