In order to gain influence over their North Carolina district, two CEOs seize an opportunity to oust long-term congressman Cam Brady by putting up a rival candidate. Their man: naive Marty Huggins, director of the local Tourism Center.
Tim Lippe has no idea what he's in for when he's sent to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to represent his company at an annual insurance convention, where he soon finds himself under the "guidance" of three convention veterans.
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 shoo-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. Written by
I expected a bit more from this movie, if only because of Steve Conrad's involvement as well as two decent leads for that type of movie. Unfortunately, Conrad, who is usually a good writer, really delivered his weakest story and lines here. Perhaps the double duty as writer and director didn't help.
Seann William Scott will never be mistaken for an Oscar performing actor but he usually has energy and a charisma that is very evident on the screen. Here, he really seems uninspired. There seems to be an attempt to pull a Jim Carrey or Will Ferrell with a performance that would be partly funny, partly tragic. Unfortunately, he fails on both fronts. John C Reilly, who is both a tremendous character actor and a great comedy guy is the most disappointing aspect of the movie. He utterly fails at making this character believable in any way and, at times, it seems he is reciting lines at a private rehearsal. Really, really bad. The actresses playing the wives of our main characters are equally uninteresting and unconvincing. Special mention goes to Lili Taylor in another awful role. Her worse performance ever and would have been worthy of a Razzie award if the movie was higher profile and her role more prominent.
There's still a nice basic plot, some moments are funny enough. The motivational tapes of Richard Welhner make for a nice running gag, until it becomes overused. By the end of the movie, we're just glad when Reilly throws that away on the sidewalk. The last arc of the film is even weaker than the rest, with a botched resolution. It really could have been a new kind of Office Space but unfortunately, those throwing that comparison are absolutely mistaken and need some more perspective. There simply aren't any classic elements in The Promotion, while Office Space is a top 10 comedy of all time. Quite a difference between the two, really.
Perhaps a director working with Conrad would have helped keep a sense of direction. A recast of the main characters (or much better actor direction) was also needed. The movie is a decent way to kill time but doesn't offer anything beyond that.
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