Generation Slacker: "Get a Job" veers from sincere and likable to dumb and disposable
Get a Job (2016)
83 min., rated R.
Directed by Dylan Kidd (2002’s “Rodger Dodger”) and written by Kyle Pennekamp and Scott Turpel, “Get a Job” wants to have it both ways—a reality-based dramedy sprinkled with bong hit and bodily fluid gags—but it was on more of a roll before thinking it's giving the masses what they want. For the first half, the film is episodic and more about observing than being in pursuit of a focused plot. And then a urine-specimen mishap regrettably comes into play and suddenly there’s a shift into corporate office hazing involving the downing of deer semen. How did we get here?
The talented actors are solid with what they've been given but aren't miracle workers, either. Before “The Spectacular Now” and “Whiplash,” Miles Teller showcases his then-blossoming mix of low-key charm and bravado that never fails to appeal. Anna Kendrick is always a bright presence just by showing up, but her character’s conflict is barely even explored. That’s better than the rest of the women in the cast, all of them game, but Alison Brie’s Tanya is a weirdly open nymphomaniac who upon hiring Will nearly goes into the bathroom with him while he urinates for a drug test, and Marcia Gay Harden is the ball-busting communications corporation employer who literally tells Will, “I own you.” Of Will’s perpetually stoned, videogame-playing roommates, Nicholas Braun, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Brandon T. Jackson are occasionally funny and somehow don’t grate on one’s nerves. As Roger, who somehow keeps the loss of his job from his wife while he sits in a coffee shop with his barista muse and keeps being rejected due to his age, Bryan Cranston is the one adult performer who comes the closest to acting like an adult.
Likable in spurts but too uneven in what it actually accomplishes, “Get a Job” does ultimately have its heart in the right place, aiming to zero in on the current generation’s post-college unemployment dilemma many graduates experience. It could have remained smart and relatable, too, had the filmmakers not dumbed down their story with easy, pandering National Lampoon-esque jokes. The cast goes a long way in easing the pain, but the end result also isn't worthy of the talent it has drawn. If it's been collecting dust this long, perhaps a little more time on the shelf wouldn't have made much of a difference.