Management Review

May 17, 2009 | 8:43am EDT


After a chance encounter with Sue a businesswoman staying at the roadside motel owned by his parents night manager Mike becomes instantly smitten. But when he travels cross-country to reunite with her he soon discovers that their one-night stand meant little more than that to Sue who has returned to her nutty Yogurt kingpin ex-boyfriend upon the promise of heading his company’s charity operations. When Mike arrives on the scene Sue is now faced with an obsessive pursuer who’s convinced that his positive determination will win her over in the end. Can this hopeless dreamer overcome her practical ambition and make a match? Take a guess.


After two major studio hits in a row  Marley and Me and He’s Just Not That Into You Jennifer Aniston’s movie-star momentum comes crashing to a halt with Management an indie-flavored comedy in which she is miscast opposite a cloying Steve Zahn. In the role of Sue the normally fetching Aniston is just so bland and indifferent it’s hard to imagine what possesses Zahn’s Mike to give up everything and trail her across the country after just one day — and vice-versa. What could this ambitious careerist even find remotely appealing about a slacker son who works nights at his parents’ rundown motel? It’s necessary for the audience to believe these two could potentially develop an instant spark between them for Management to have a chance and unfortunately Aniston and Zahn exhibit zero chemistry. As Mike’s parents Fred Ward and Margo Martindale give it their all (especially Martindale who’s oddly touching) but they get minimal screen time. Once Woody Harrelson enters the picture as Jango the eccentric yogurt master all is completely lost as the tone shifts from low-key romance to over-the-top slapstick. (Harrelson needs a new agent by the way.)


The idea of a story about the need for a human connection between two such emotionally wounded and guarded people is a good one; it’s been addressed effectively in countless lonelyhearts films before. And it’s admirable that Aniston is trying to stretch by doing indie films like this and the far better Good Girl (her best indie outing to date) instead of just taking a paycheck.


Management is just a forgettable movie with no clear sense of what it wants to be. The Harrelson sequences are a train wreck and debuting director Stephen Belber (who also wrote the script) wears his inexperience on his sleeve as most of the other scenes come off as flat and derivative. He does his undernourished screenplay no favors by failing to establish even a semblance of visual style or purpose.


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