Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 8, 2016)
As one of her six (!) movies to see release in 2016, Get a Job pairs Anna Kendrick with Miles Teller as recent college graduates. Will Davis (Teller) and Jillian Stewart (Kendrick) leave academia to find themselves with a desire to join the upwardly-mobile.
Alas, the employment market disagrees with their dreams, and Will finds himself hardest hit. We watch his efforts to move ahead, and also see how the market impacts his housemates and even his father Roger (Bryan Cranston) after the senior Davis loses his long-time job.
Look, I love Kendrick, and I know Hollywood tends to play fast and loose when it comes to age. Studios saw fit to cast 34-year-old Stockard Channing as a high school student in Grease, and they’ve not changed that trend since then.
As such, it shouldn’t surprise me that 30-year-old Kendrick and 29-year—old Teller find themselves in roles as much younger characters. Heck, Teller was supposed to be a teenager in 2015’s Fantastic Four, so I should view his part as a college grad as an upgrade, right?
In this case, I should forgive the “age issues” because it turns out the filmmakers shot Job all the way back in early 2012! Apparently distribution issues kept it on the shelf for four whole years.
I can’t say the movie’s “suppression” should prompt any tears, as Job could’ve remained unreleased forever and not been a loss to society. Every once in a while, the movie threatens to amuse, but it usually seems far too lazy and pointless to go anywhere.
On the positive side, Job boasts a stellar cast. In addition to Teller, Kendrick and Cranston, we find actors such as Marcia Gay Harden, Bruce Davison, Alison Brie, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Brandon T. Jackson, John C. McGinley, John Cho and Jay Pharoah. Of course, many of them weren’t as famous in 2012 as they are in 2016, but that’s still a great roster of performers.
At times, Job coasts simply on the charm and talent of its cast, but they can’t turn this mess into anything consistently enjoyable. The main problem comes from the narrative’s confusion and lack of balance.
This plays out in a few different ways, but the primary concern stems from the erratic way in which it uses its characters. Based on billing and advertisements, one might expect the story to focus on Will and Jillian in equal measures, but this doesn’t occur. Will dominates the movie, and Roger gets the second most attention.
The remaining actors battle for scraps, but even among the other castmembers, Kendrick barely gets a morsel. We spend more time with Will’s buddies Charlie (Nicholas Braun) and Luke (Jackson) than we do with Jillian – she’s essentially an afterthought in the movie’s plot.
Granted, at a mere 82 minutes, Job includes little time to explore all its personalities, but it still surprises me that Kendrick receives so little attention. Perhaps Jillian enjoyed a bigger part in the script and Kendrick’s scenes landed on the cutting room floor, but it still seems odd that disposable characters like the roommates find more screen time than the ostensible co-lead.
Many other inconsistencies and strange choices mar Job. At the start, we hear how characters of Will’s vintage earned praise and rewards for anything they did, and this implies Job will offer a satire of the “everyone gets a prize” generation and view how they deal with the cold, hard realities of the world.
Nope. Apparently we’re supposed to view Will and friends as spoiled and entitled, but the movie never depicts them that way. Sure, they like to smoke pot and play videogames, but they seem eager to work and will do whatever it takes to get ahead in life.
Because of this, the “entitlement” theme sputters immediately and doesn’t get revisited until the end. The movie never uses the concept so I don’t understand why it’s involved at all – it makes no sense to call Will and the others “entitled” when they behave like go-getters.
Even without that thematic flaw, Job sputters because it so often makes no sense. Lapses in continuity abound. For instance, at one point, Will claims that Roger urged him to take a certain kind of job for “years” – how does this make sense when Will just got out of college?
It doesn’t – unless the script originally intended for Will and company to be older than 22. I have to believe this was the case, as the whole “entitlement” theme seems much more logical if Will and pals are 26 or so and not 22.
As painted here, they all just got out of college, so they can’t be accused of sucking on their parents’ teat for long periods of time. However, the movie acts like this is the case. When Will asks Roger for money, it looks like the umpteenth time he’s done so, but that makes no chronological sense given Will’s youth.
All of these flaws makes me more curious why Job sat on the shelf for so long – and these concerns lead me to believe that it got abandoned before director Dylan Kidd actually finished it. This “final product” is so strange and choppy that I find it tough to accept that the original filmmakers felt satisfied with what we see here.
Because of this, Get a Job comes across like a movie someone released half-done. Filled with puzzling choices, characters who come and go without logic and strange lapses in consistency, this ends up as a muddled mess.