Tag Archives: Superbad

Get a Job (2016)

Ah, the millennials. They just can’t seem to make it work, can they? Get a Job, directed by Dylan Kidd (Roger Dodger), is a comedy about a group of young people trying to find their first jobs. The movie was apparently shot in 2012, but due to distribution issues was only released this weekend in very few theaters and on VOD rather than the wide release expected for a movie playing to this broad of an audience. Miles Teller plays Will, a recent grad who starts his first day doing video production at LA Weekly only to learn that his job as been eliminated. His girlfriend Jillian (Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect) asks him to “step up” and find a job. unlike his pot-smoking roommates, while his old fashioned “work your way to the top” dad (Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad)  unexpectedly finds himself in a similar situation. The movie also features various subplots about Will’s roommates attempting to find their own first jobs and this is one of the reason the film falls apart.

The film feels overstuffed, despite its 82 minute runtime. It’s clear that this movie has gone through several overhauls in the editing room to create  something releasable, but their attempts have failed. None of the plot threads are given enough time to allow the characters to grow, so the climaxes have little effect. There is also dialogue referring to scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut which leads to a film that feels entirely jumbled together. Even with the 4 year wait, Get a Job still plays like an early version.

Making a good movie is the hard part.

The “comedy” script fails to produce any laughs. The writers were obviously targeting a Superbad-like movie, especially with their casting of Christopher Mintz-Plasse, but fail at creating both the likable characters and the humorous situations. The cast here is extremely talented and has done great work in other projects, but the script and editing don’t give them anything to work with. Cranston and Kendrick are the highlights, but even they can only do so much given their material and they aren’t featured enough to make an impact. Instead the jokes oscillate between trite and obscene and the language is both juvenile and crass. Alison Brie plays a hiring manager whose only lines are sexual advances that are both unwanted and unfunny. To put this in context, the film’s idea of comedy is her character trying to watch Will urinate for his drug test. Get a Job‘s humor never rises above a repulsively vulgar attempt at a Judd Apatow comedy.

Furthermore, the tone is absolutely inappropriate for the target audience. Starting right from the opening shot, Get a Job never loses its “kids these days” perspective. The film’s introductory montage posits that all of the characters’ problems are caused by their everyone-gets-a-trophy upbringing and that they can’t make it in the “real world” until they “toughen up”. Then, at the last minute, it doubles back and tries to claim, in a well delivered but unsubstantiated speech by Kendrick, that the younger generation doesn’t need the structure or direction of their parents to be happy. With no true, original, or even consistent insights to offer, the film fails at both skewering millennials and at uplifting them.

Totaling all these troubles, it’s clear that distribution issues were the least of the film’s problems. The 4 year wait apparently did not provide enough time construct a developed story and also outdated it as the economy has improved since filming. In retrospect, placing it on hold was actually the right decision because the movie has nothing to offer to any demographic. Get a Job is positioned as a film of and for the millennials but feels like a movie written by their disapproving grandparents with jokes by an obscene Seth Rogen knockoff.

1/5 stars.

Teenagers in Film

[BS Note: This article was originally written in Fall 2013]

This summer the film The Spectacular Now released to critical acclaim. However after watching the trailer I was not impressed. Everyone seemed like a stereotype or cliché and the emotional depth that critics praised was not apparent to me. I complained to a friend about how everyone looked like dumb characters acting dumb and he had an insightful comment. He said “Real teenagers look like ‘dumb characters acting dumb’. If anything, teenagers in films are too smart.” This made me look back on the teen films I’ve seen and reflect on how I behaved while in high school.

I was pretty dumb in high school. I’ll be the first to admit that and I think that most people would feel the same way (about themselves, although I’m sure others would say that about me as well). After seeing The Spectacular Now, I understand why the reviews are so positive. Yes, the characters do dumb things, but the key is that their mistakes feel sincere and relatable. Their stupidity is really authentic to the experience of being a teenager. They make wrong decisions even though the right decision seems obvious to us, the viewers, but they do it because they are coming from a place of uncertainty, both of themselves and of their futures.

Many movies feature teenagers that are insecure or uncertain. In Rebel Without a Cause, James Dean’s character acts out because of his parents’ marital troubles. In Superbad, the main characters are all awkward social misfits. So what separates the characters in The Spectacular Now from those other films? For me, it was the way the characters’ actions don’t seem driven by a plot. In both Rebel Without a Cause and Superbad, it feels like the characters make their bad decisions to move the narrative to a climactic plot point (the shootout in Rebel and the party in Superbad). In The Spectacular Now, the narrative doesn’t seem to force the characters to do things. It feels more like characters making honest mistakes that cause a particular narrative to occur. This “accidental” plot is what makes the film authentic and memorable. It elevates the characters beyond the archetypes they fill and makes them feel honest and relatable.