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Annabelle Gurwitch's first-person take on getting the axe.

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When actress Annabelle Gurwitch was fired from a play by Woody Allen, she wondered how she would cope with being downsized by a cultural icon. Turning to friends in show business, she was assured she was not alone. Everyone she knew, from her rabbi to her gynecologist, had their own account of getting the boot. Featuring interviews with comedians, economists and regular working folks, and drawing on her hugely popular book, Fired! is a humorous look at downsizing in America. Written by Anonymous

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Getting Fired By Woody Allen Was Just The Beginning


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2 February 2007 (USA)  »

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$2,158 (USA) (2 February 2007)

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$5,172 (USA) (9 February 2007)
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Slightly Unfocused Subject, But Entertaining Enough To Recommend
4 January 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Annabelle Gurwitch is a character actress/comedienne who is not quite a household name (unless that household has watched TBS' "Dinner & A Movie" for the last decade), but has still crafted herself a more successful career than most in her field. Her name may not be well known, but the average movie goer or TV watcher probably see her and think, "Oh yeah, she was in 'The Cable Guy'!" or "Wasn't she in that Marisa Tomei episode of 'Seinfeld'?". Needless to say, she has made a career playing supporting roles, but has not yet to my knowledge taken on a lead role, or even made her own documentary.

For starters, she does pretty well with "Fired", a documentary that begins with her being fired from a Woody Allen play and expands itself from there. Gurwitch starts out by saying that being hired for a Woody Allen production is every actor's dream (which it probably is). The scene that comes next is of course inevitable given the title of the documentary, but still painful to hear. Naturally, Allen didn't make a cameo in this scene, but the Woody Allen stand in, the voice-over sound-alike, and Gurwitch's realistic reactions to Allen's supposed words were powerful elements to start this documentary off right.

From there, Gurwitch interviews a number of celebrities and asks them about the times they were fired, and so goes the rest of the film. Some of the insights are very funny, others are reassuring, and then there are some which fall a bit flat. I thought Gurwitch picked some great people to interview, such as Jeff Garlin and Tim Allen. The shots of Paul F. Tompkins and Illeanna Douglass performing live on stage were also good add-ins, and they were very funny.

With these commentaries, though, came the shifting of focus as to what this documentary was actually about. The documentary's subject was about the pain of being fired. Given how Gurwitch claimed to have been fired (i.e. because Woody Allen didn't think she was a good enough actress, not because of what she did), one would think the film would focus around how people were let go of their jobs despite their best efforts. However, as the film went on, you could see that some of the people being interviewed talked about how they got themselves fired intentionally from jobs they hated. That case was especially true for Andy Dick.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: there should be a rule in film-making textbooks that if you put Andy Dick in a movie, there is a high probability it will suck. Andy Dick is not a good comedian, and is famous more for his outrageous (and often times off-putting) antics, drug use, sketchy behavior, and overall arrogance. Any employers who fired him were probably as annoyed by him as the members of SNL who blame him for Phil Hartman's death (as he allegedly supplied Hartman's wife with the supply of heroin that would ultimately be her last). His presence alone contributes nothing to this documentary.

Furthermore, the documentary loses itself to the subject of factory workers and others being laid off, and echos more of Michael Moore than Gurwitch probably intended to do. However, watching this after the recent stock market crash that led the U.S. into a recession, there is some really eerie truth that comes from the interviewed economists (including Ben Stein) which members of the Bush White House probably should have listened to before.

Above all, though, the documentary was pretty good. If there's anything to take away from it moral-wise, it's that being fired from anything is not the end of the world. Of course, any career service office could tell you that, but it's good to hear from moderately successful entertainers too. I just wish the movie would have ended with how Gurwitch herself moved on from such a career speedbump, and what kinds of projects she has coming up. It also would have been good to hear more about what she had accomplished before the Woody Allen incident for many moviegoers who don't know.

I recommend this movie for its entertainment value and for bringing up a subject more than a few people have experienced (myself included). I find myself torn between giving this film 6 or 7 stars, but I will give it seven stars since I enjoyed watching it.


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