Directed by Dylan Kidd. Produced by Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher. Written by Kyle Pennekamp and Scott Turpel. Release date: March 25, 2016.
Shot in 2012 but shelved until 2016 for reasons we’ll probably never learn, Get a Job is a film that’s been on my radar for quite some time – mostly because of the actors involved in its production. Miles Teller, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bryan Cranston, Marcia Gay Harden, Nicholas Braun, Brandon T. Jackson, and Alison Brie are all actors I like, so putting them all in the same movie has to yield at least some successful scenes, right? There’s also an inherent curiosity that comes from a film that sat on a shelf for this long, isn’t there? You want to see just how big of a disaster it must be for its financiers to just eat the money that was put into it. Maybe it’s just me.
Get a Job is about millennials who have been spoon-fed accomplishments their entire lives but after graduating college begin to learn that the world isn’t all sunflowers, rainbows, and praise. Our lead is Will (Teller), who gets promised a job, finds the company downsized, and then has to figure out a way to make ends meet. He wants to make videos for a living, and has done so successfully – but not monetarily – on YouTube. He lives with three stoners (Mintz-Plasse, Braun, and Jackson) and has a girlfriend named Jillian (Kendrick), all of whom face struggles of their own.
One can only assume that Get a Job is angry at the financial collapse that happened in 2008, and the producers decided they’d wait until we were in the midst of another one – albeit to a lesser extent – to release their film, realizing that it wouldn’t hit as well in 2013. Well, despite its lack of humor, scattershot editing, and lackluster characters, Get a Job does find a few moments that are worthwhile, many of which relate directly to its subject matter – the job market for college graduates – as well as older individuals who had a comfy job but were let go thanks to budget cuts, represented here through Roger (Cranston), Will’s father.
Unfortunately, a greater chunk of time is spent just hanging around with these underdeveloped characters, doing little of consequence. And Get a Job doesn’t have that time to spare; including credits, it only barely manages to reach the 80-minute mark. Brevity is fine and dandy, but cutting it too tightly leaves out strong character moments. Should we care when Jillian loses her job? We struggle because the only things we know about her is her current amount of debt, her relationship to our protagonist, and that she’ll probably be fine. Of all the younger cast members, she seems the most likely to achieve any lofty goals they might have.
Ultimately a dud, but a fascinating dud that did have a few worthwhile moments, I can understand why Get a Job found itself sitting on a shelf for four years after it was shot.
Of course, the lens is skewed so heavily in the millennials’ favor that anyone in a corporate position becomes Satan. Marcia Gay Harden is the uptight boss whose comeuppance is just a touch uncomfortable. John Cho‘s cameo shows him as a heartless middle manager. And the bosses of Brandon T. Jackson’s character make him drink deer semen in order to progress up the ranks, which is not a fun scene. I wager it was supposed to be funny, but it plays out as mean and gross. Alison Brie’s character exists just to throw sexually explicit dialogue at Miles Teller’s character; she does nothing else in the entire movie.
But, still, Get a Job does manage to throw in a few solid points at the way the job market functions for those on the outside looking in. It gets points for that, and it is well-acted. Miles Teller is the perfect kind of likable jerk whom you eventually can’t help but root for, even if you also sometimes want to punch him in the face. Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Nicholas Braun, and Brandon T. Jackson make for likable supporting stoners. Anna Kendrick, Bryan Cranston, and Marcia Gay Harden are as reliable as ever. This is a film whose problems come from its screenplay and/or editing. It might be one of them, but it’s more likely that both are to blame.
Ultimately a dud, but a fascinating dud that did have a few worthwhile moments, I can understand why Get a Job found itself sitting on a shelf for four years after it was shot. Whether there was an attempt to salvage it in the editing room – its cut-to-the-bone running time might suggest that – or if it simply was an unfunny, lightweight attempt to tackle some serious subject matter, we may never know. The result is a disappointing movie featuring good actors playing uninvolving characters – with just a few moments that make you long for a better movie.
Bottom Line: Good actors can’t save a poor script or bad editing, and that’s what’s happened here. Get a Job is a film that had much more potential than the final result shows.
Recommendation: It’s not worth watching, but I’d like to point out that neither is Post Grad. So there.[rating=1.5]
If you want more of Matthew “Marter” Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.