Rated R for language, 93 minutes
Peculiar, offbeat indie romantic comedy "Management" hits the wrong notes
If the new movie "Management" were a contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice," they'd be fired. If it's possible to be so offbeat that's it's plain weird, "Management" does just that. A talented cast and a few touching moments can't overcome the thin story and the slack direction. "Management" exudes only surface-level emotion that may leave you feeling a little empty; it's a likable but hollow movie. I can look at Jennifer Anistion all day, but that doesn't mean it's a great movie.
Trish (Margo Martindale), Jerry (Fred Ward) and lonely their middle age son Mike ("Sunshine Cleaning's" Steve Zahn) run a well-kept motel in Kingman, Arizona. One day an uptight business traveler named Sue (Jennifer Aniston) checks into the motel for the evening. Mike, who doesn't have much of a life, is instantly attracted to Sue and finds reasons to talk to her, like bringing her wine to her room. They end up having a quick fling but Sue leaves to go back to Maryland, but Mike, thinking they have something special and quickly falling in love, keeps pursuing her. They end up seeing more of each other, but things become complicated when Sue's former punk rock ex-boyfriend named Jango (Woody Harrelson) arrives to sweep her off her feet.
"Management" is a mediocre quirky romantic comedy that's modestly affecting but shallow and unsympathetic at its core. The movie seems to wear its quirky attitude on its sleeve, filled with peculiarly awkward moments that come off as more creepy than anything. Sure, Mike is a nice guy, but really, would you answer the door if you're alone at a motel so he can give you some cheap wine just as an excuse to talk to you - the exchange is as awkward and weird as it seems on paper - especially when Sue lets Mike grope her rear end. Then, Mike follows Sue across country - twice - in moments that are altogether stalkerish. How these two get together is beyond me.
Zahn and Aniston are a lovely couple, and the likable Zahn in particular has some touching moments, but Aniston's talents are wasted in a vastly underwritten role. The best moments are from a couple of supporting players - "Prison Break's" James Liao as a funny (but stereotypical) Asian buddy of Mike's who offers him help when he's in a pinch, and the always wonderful character actress Margo Martindale in a bittersweet role as Mike's loving mother who wants to help him get "unstuck" from "whatever he's stuck in." Harrelson, in a brief role is - no surprise - quite weird as Aniston's ex-boyfriend.
The final act of "Management" is enjoyably predictable, but most of the twists and turns are too awkwardly handled and lack emotional depth to truly draw you to these unusual people. "How did your presentations go today?" Zahn's character asks Aniston's. "Oh, OK, just average," she replies. That could well sum up this movie: average. Interesting premise, uninteresting characters, a quirky and hollow tone that leaves you with little. As much as I like Aniston and even Zahn, I don't recommend this movie.