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Ever sat through one of those movies that you're hoping something's
going to happen - and it doesn't? The Promotion is one such movie.
Here's the uninspiring story of two guys - both intent on being
promoted within a corporate supermarket franchise.
That's the premise - short and sweet. Naturally there's some tension between both men competing for the position, but overall the humor is weak; the competitive nature of the applicants is unconvincing and the story flat-lines a couple of minutes into the film.
John C. Reilly is the hopeful manager from Canada while the incumbent is Seann William Scott.
There's nothing to it, nothing to expect and with only a hint of infidelity or upheaval, it's best left out of the spotlight - preferably collecting dust someplace in a $1 rental outlet...
My first clue that "The Promotion" might have a little more below the
surface than the usual Seann William Scott junior gag fest was the
trailer...it didn't have too much easy humor and the plot seemed
genuinely human, and even sensitive. Then there was the fact it was
released by Miramax spin-off Dimension, an imprint more well known for
horror movies than anything else. Something was up.
After seeing the film, I am pleased to say that lurking under the veneer of a slightly stupid mass-market comedy is a deftly knowing little indie movie waiting to surface.
The bad part of course is --- I don't know if many who would like the film will see it. It reminded me a little of "The Good Girl" with Jennifer Anniston. It was well scripted, rather slowly paced, and relied more on the script and storyline for laughs rather than leaning too heavily on the star-power of it's two principles.
The scene at the team-building retreat (dead-on if you've ever been to one) is a prime example. Yeah, there are a few pratfalls, but most of the time you're shriveling in your seat feeling horribly for John Reilly.
He's always been incredible at cutting to the human core of all his characters and he really shines in this part. You don't feel sorry for him as much as you feel empathy. And that's not the easiest thing to do with this character, who is far from lily white. As for Scott, he is definitely growing into an accomplished character actor and it's refreshing to see him tackle something this gray and still turn in a resonating performance. Some of the reviewers see him as a "wimp"....well, that's a bit too easy. I see him as distinctly human.
I'm also surprised that this comes from Steve Conrad, whose prior scripts I've always thought of as a bit heavy on the syrup. Nothing is forced here. Yeah, not much happens...this is a slice of life movie, albeit one with a funny crust.
It really is a shame it wasn't marketed a bit differently. It sucks to go into a movie expecting something and getting nothing close to what you expected out of it. Which, fortunately for me this time, wasn't the case.
Having recently watched the amazingly disappointing Step Brothers with
John C. Reilly and Will Farrell, I was not expecting much when I
watched Reilly star alongside Seann William Scott in what looked to me
like your standard rivalry comedy. But it's my job to watch movies so I
was forced to sit through it, and I must say I was certainly pleasantly
Scott is Doug Stauber, a regular guy with a regular job at a supermarket and he's looking to get a promotion to store manager. He sees a career and a simple but comfortable life with his young wife and their dream of a small home and a happy family. He's a good guy and he works hard, and we want him to get the job.
The simplicity of his character is illustrated in a charming interaction with his wife, where she assures him that things will be okay, she can get a job and help them make money.
Doug: "I wanna be the primary breadwinner, Jen."
Jen: "Female lions do the hunting "
Doug: "I'm not a lion, I'm a guy "
But then a Richard Wehlner, a charming Canadian transfer, arrives and they each realize that they are both seeking the same position. Richard has more experience than Richard and is probably more qualified for the job, and he also has his own wife and daughter and is also a great guy. Doug and Richard respect and even like each other, which makes their competition genuinely interesting.
The movie centers on each man's inability to figure out how they are supposed to respond to and treat each other. They both want to be amiable and friendly, but they each realize that they have to destroy the other's hopes in order to achieve their own. The escalation of their competition and the gradual collapse of their formality is far more than I had expected from the movie, and the best way that the movie succeeds is that it makes us want to root for both of them.
I noticed another user said on the IMDb that the movie was like an attempt to "pull a Jim Carrey or Will Farrell." This person has missed the point of the movie so completely and so ridiculously that it's difficult for me to believe that he actually watched it. The Promotion is a smart movie starring two guys best known for doing not very smart comedy. All have made a step forward here and they should be recognized for it. Bravo!
There's nothing overly spectacular about The Promotion, and yet it has
an odd way of succeeding at every little joke it makes. Peculiarly
satisfying, the film showcases key hilarious scenes interspersed with
occasionally mediocre, but generally entertaining, bits of gross-out
humor and creative cursing. A combination of the best elements of
Waiting and Office Space applied to the grocery business, The Promotion
uses dry, bitingly dark humor and abrasive sarcasm to muster up many
Doug Stauber (Seann William Scott) works as an Assistant Manager for Donaldson's, a generic grocery store that demonstrates the basic horrors of any retail store. While he tolerates the many nuisances and hazards of grocery store life, he envisions a more luxurious life when a new Donaldson's is set to open up nearby. Considered the "shoe-in" for the position of Manager, Doug finally decides to buy a house with his wife Jennifer (Jenna Fischer), counting on the huge increase in pay.
But just as Doug rejoices at the position he believes is his, Richard Welhner (John C. Reilly) transfers to the store from Canada. Richard is secretly recovering from a drug and alcohol problem, but he has an outstanding service record that presents Doug with some serious competition for the new Manager spot. With the pressure of trying to outperform his rival, Doug ends up sinking further and further into stress-filled delirium as does Richard, who must break all the rules to compete for the big promotion.
It is the exploitation of extremely pathetic characters and situations (perhaps both familiar and average for some) that makes The Promotion so funny. Nearly everyone can relate to the depressingly helpless customer service situations that Doug and Richard must contend with, as well as the stresses of performing for a boss or standing up to troublesome shoppers. The nightmarish episodes at Donaldson's are relative to almost every job, and they are all handled with cynical accuracy. Not every joke is extraordinary, but never does the film miss a beat, even with the briefer moments of humor. From painfully long moments of silence under the scrutiny of an executive or battling unruly gangs in a perilous parking lot, every shenanigan is oddly satisfying.
With a few random flashback moments similar to a live action version of Family Guy, and the steady deterioration of the lead characters under pounds of stress, The Promotion revels in political incorrectness and the mockery of professionalism. Imaginative cursing, tragic misunderstandings and the hilarious self-help tapes Welhner depends on, all tumble together to create a film that dryly parodies every mishap that can happen in retail. The humor occasionally falls back on extreme immaturity or mawkish verbal vulgarities, but remains downright funny at all the right moments. The Promotion is an immensely enjoyable film for anyone who's ever had a retail job or any job for that matter.
- Mike Massie
This film is about two assistant managers of a supermarket fighting for
a promotion to become the manager of the new branch.
The two assistant managers, Doug and Richard, are both developed well. They come across as real human beings that I care about. They are both torn between their need to climb up the ladder, but are both restrained by their morals. This soul searching is beautifully depicted, giving the story depth and charm.
I find "The Promotion" to be very well made. It successfully strikes the right balance between dirty office politics, reflections on moral issues and humour. This is really hard, given the fact that the topic of the film is likely to arouse some negative emotions in the viewer's own work place. I really enjoyed watching "The Promotion".
Some comedies make you laugh out loud, but this one makes you smile
A languid tale of competition and two guys just trying to get bye in the world, both afraid of failure and willing to hurt the other to make it but each wrapped up in tragedy and common decency.
It will come as a surprise to many that Seann William Scott can actually act and he has real if understated presence in this.
John C Reilly is his usual excellent self but it is the tale that is the real star.
It is easy to make a comedy based on physical slapstick or outrageous language and acts. This one relies on a script and rhythmn and a gentleness of heart.
Without ever threatening to split one's sides, it is a nice film and well worth a watch.
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.
"The Promotion" could easily have been written as a gross out comedy, in which case it could take it's place among the many failures of that overworked genre. Instead, it is a drama that includes amusing situations, none of which resort to slapstick for laughs. Sensitive performances by both Sean William Scott and John C. Reilly, add immeasurably to the film. There is a feeling that "I've been in situations like this myself". In the end the movie has a lot to say about honesty and relationships. Both main characters elicit sympathy, and the outcome of the supermarket promotion is in doubt until the final deciding interview. - MERK
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The beauty in this picture is that it masquerades as a serious film, while the dialogue and content are very light-hearted and everyday-silly. People who buy into the dramatic close-ups and pans and slow-mo shots (coupled with a brilliantly dramatic score) are going to be greatly disappointed when the craziest thing that happens is someone getting slapped or belted with yoo-hoo. Judging by some peoples' comments about this film, this is exactly what happened to them. It is not propaganda about corporate America, or a dark dramedy that fails to shock us, and thereby has no worthwhile value; it is simply a light story that is meant to entertain us only as much as we are willing to let it. When you contrast that with the seriousness of the camera-work, the editing, and the music, what you have is a fantastic movie- one which I thoroughly enjoyed. Lili Taylor's accent was annoying, yes, and the film could've been a little shorter in length perhaps, but when I tried to figure out what scenes I'd cut if I could, I drew a blank. I felt they were all relevant to the story. I loved this movie.
Many people saying this movie is "uninspired" or "boring" do not
understand the type this type of comedy. The reason the characters do
not have energy is because they are not supposed to! It is the type of
comedy that pokes fun at real life situations. It is meant to bring out
the comedy in day to day life. I felt like this was really obvious, but
I guess not.
It is great to see a movie that is funny, and does not have to use obscene material to accomplish this. Many comedies now days think if they fill it with curse words, and nudity it makes it funny. I appreciate a comedy that can be funny without having to do this.
If you find Seinfeld funny, I would highly recommend this movie.
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