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</script></div>{/googleAds}Written and directed by newcomer Stephen Belber, Management is a quirky little slice-of-life film that refuses to be pigeonholed. Sure, it's funny and amorous enough to eventually wind up in the romantic comedy section of the DVD shelves, but there's enough other good stuff to defy any conventional classification. Belber's script infuses the proceedings with a vibrant sense of cleverness, spontaneity, and ambition that keeps viewers alert and continually expecting the unexpected. It doesn't always hit on all cylinders in fact it misses badly at times but the film offers a worthy alternative to a cinematic landscape littered with big-budget, summer season CGI blockbusters.

ManagementOne of the main reasons the film works is because of the performance of Steve Zahn. The funnyman, whose zany antics have led to a prolific career playing the over-the-top sidekick, is surprisingly reserved and calculating here. His reward will be a career with meatier and more rewarding roles like this and fewer like his bong-smoking loser in Strange Wilderness.

In Management, Zahn's character, Mike, is the night manager at his parents' run-down roadside motel in Kingman, Arizona. Bored and uninspired, Mike passes the days watching TV and tending to chores around the motel, whether fixing an overflowing toilet in room 210, or sprucing up the breakfast bar in the lobby. He's a grown man, rudderless in life's ambitions until he meets Sue (Jennifer Aniston) a travelling saleswoman who peddles cheap motel artwork and whose recent stop necessitates a stay at Mike's motel. Emboldened by his behind-the-desk authority, Mike makes his move on Sue who is only mildly accepting out of courtesy. His goal? To touch her butt... which she allows before promptly shooing him out of her room. The next day, before leaving the motel to head back home to Baltimore, Sue grants Mike the laundry room encounter of his life.

Here's where things could have turned a bit creepy, and where a horror film would certainly take its sinister turn. After Sue leaves to head back home, Mike buys a one-way ticket to Baltimore and shows up unannounced at her office. Initially a bit disturbed by the visit, Sue eventually falls to Mike's puppy dog charm and allows him to spend the weekend in her apartment. Sue must recognize the same disarming allure in Mike that we sense in Zahn. Handled by an actor any more menacing or less able to make us see the genuine concern and wide-eyed affection his character feels for someone he truly believes is his soul mate, the film would surely cross over into the realm of absurdity. But Zahn is so convincing we buy into his enchantment... hook, line, and sinker. Maybe it's his boyish facial expressions or our own memories of childhood pursuits of those we couldn't have, but regardless, we struggle right alongside Mike as his good-hearted charm and romantic wit begin to eventually whittle away at Sue's tough external façade.

Aniston is slightly miscast in her role. Not so much in how she handles her character (she's actually quite good), but rather in that her Sue would be better served by an actress less strikingly attractive or perhaps a decade or so older. We might find it easier to buy into Sue's attraction to Mike if she were played by a Catherine Keener or an Emily Blunt. Both certainly beautiful actresses, but they're more capable of pulling off common or approachable. We have a little trouble buying into the fact that Sue would find anything attractive or appealing in Mike, but the bubbly chemistry between Aniston and Zahn makes everything work. We develop genuine care and concern for the characters - a vital element for a romatic comedy to work.

Management is an addictively charming little movie about loosening up and chasing your dreams. There are a lot of reasons why the film shouldn't work, and it could have easily tipped over into slapstick silly or even stalker creepy. In fact, some of the film's offbeat moments feel like quirky for quirky's sake. But Belber's unconventional vision and a couple of brilliant actors doing what they do best make Management a pleasant little diversion from the cacophony coming from the next screen over.

Component Grades
3 Stars
DVD Experience

DVDDVD Details:

Screen Formats: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish; Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 HD

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; audio commentary; deleted scenes; gag reel.


Commentary: Feature-length commentary track with Steve Zahn and writer/director Stephen Belber

Deleted Scenes - 9 scenes that didn't make the final cut, plus a 13-minute gag reel.

Previews - original theatrical trailer

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging