The Promotion: movie review
From the writer of "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "The Weather Man" comes the latest movie from Steve Conrad. He directs this time with Seann William Scott and John C. Reilly in a movie named "The Promotion". To give you a synopsis is as pointless as me describing the reasons why I think women with oversized handbags remind of my grandmother (i.e. Paris Hilton)! It's obvious what the film is about. Take a look at the poster to right. What's so difficult about it?
What's interesting about it though is the normality of the script. Seann William Scott plays an assistant manager for a supermarket and is seeking to buy a nicer house and get a promotion. Soon enough a like-minded Canadian (John C. Reilly) who tries desperately not to use the "F-word" in public is also seeking the same promotion.
I know what you're thinking. You've spotted the tagline at the top of the poster (Two guys. One Job. No rules) and think this is likely to be a raucous comedy where each of the characters find new levels of evil to get the job that they both want (almost like a comedic version of changing lanes). This is where the problem lies. It is not raucous at all. It is actually a calm look at a very normal occurrence. There are occasions where the storyline looks like it is going to go down a manic path, but ultimately only does for the shortest of times.
Naturally the storyline is biased somewhat to the character played by Scott, but it does allow you some small glimpses into Reilly's character. Sadly though it isn't enough. The film rolls along almost unsure of itself. In fact I would put money on the fact that the writing of "The Promotion" had not been completed when the movie had started production. I may very well be wrong, but it ambles along as if the movie itself doesn't know the ending. The director almost can't decide what should be the final act.
So this isn't your usual John C. Reilly affair as he plays a somewhat innocuous character who's much more mild than manic. It is a fine thing to see two very "obvious" comedy actors playing it down so well. Neither of them is out to steal the other's limelight in the movie and it works well.
Sadly then, the fact that this isn't your usual Seann William Scott and John C. Reilly movie, the people who are likely to enjoy it, won't even bother. I have seen this movie by chance alone and have found it to be an interesting tale of a normal event. If the director had not felt obliged to please the John C. Reilly Seann William Scott fans, he may have focused more on the difficulties of normal life. It's almost a depressed squirrel's tale dressed up as a dancing monkey. As the comical monkey it fails miserably. As a story about two guys trying to get to the top, it's a lot more enjoyable.
Now for this review to be complete all I have to do is talk about its flaws. I have an issue with casting directors who have a vacancy for a Scottish female character and then give it to an American woman (incapable of a decent accent). Lili Taylor plays Reilly's wife and she's supposed to be Scottish. In fact, because her accent is so bad, even Seann William Scott asks where she is from. A Scottish accent is a tough call for an actor and yet they expect anyone to do it. Why on earth does the casting director not just hire a Scottish actress? Is that so difficult? Does this person just want a friend of a friend to get the part and so gives it to her for no other reason (knowing her accent is rubbish)? If Taylor and Reilly had good chemistry then change the damn script so that his wife comes from Wisconsin (or some other place where the actress doesn't have to pretend she's good at accents). Time and time again this is seen in movies and I'm getting tired of it. There are very capable actors in the world who have the appropriate accent. USE THEM! Another major complaint is that of the overuse of unfamiliar terminology that is not necessarily globally understood. For example, the statement "Shoo-in" and "cutting the cheese" (don't laugh) is not something that is commonly known outside the U.S. It seems as though the movie does not want to be palatable for other cultures.
As sad as it seems, "the Promotion" was sold as a comedy on the backbone of two actors known for their outlandish behaviour. With Scott (Stiffler) and Reilly (Walk Hard) we were given a great deal more than anyone expected. All actors in the movie were well played with small roles from Ally McBeal's annoying boyfriend (as the head honcho) to Jason Bateman (as the Management training guru). The marketing was so far offit was painful so I would suggest that they need to rethink their publicity drive when the movie gets exported.
A good effort but ultimately cannot decide whether it is one thing or another. A raucous comedy it is not. A normal everyday tale it is. You'll watch this one in a couple of years on cable (by sheer chance) and be pleasantly surprised.
My Rating: 3 out of 10 (Good effort, but not quite there)
Your Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Lose the bad accented woman)
Reilly's last line in the movie was actually quite moving (did I say that). Perhaps there's hope for him yet!