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June 15, 2016

Get a Job

by Franz Patrick


Get a Job (2016)
★★ / ★★★★

The comedy “Get a Job,” by director Dylan Kidd, has the potential to make a true and lasting statement about the millennial generation and the real struggles involved in finding a well-paying, stable job right out of university. It is a major disappointment then that the picture often goes in the direction of lame-brained comedy, sacrificing intelligent and precise commentary about what is wrong with the current job market for millennials as well as what is wrong about the subjects themselves—generally speaking, the unchecked attitudes and unrealistic expectations, for instance—while still delivering the requisite comic punches.

Miles Teller and Anna Kendrick, playing Will and Jillian, respectively, are a couple who landed good jobs before college graduation. The focal point is Will and during his first day at the LA Times, he is informed that there is no position for him after all due to recent job cuts within the company over the summer. With the rent due in a few days, he feels an extreme pressure to get a job—any job—during the transitory phase. Meanwhile, Will’s friends (Nicholas Braun, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Brandon T. Jackson) and girlfriend face their own battles with snagging and keeping a coveted position.

There are two great decisions in the film. The first invokes the question of why millennials, generally speaking, tend to have a sense of entitlement so powerful that they feel they deserve to get a career they’ve always dreamed about right after college. And when they don’t get what they want, why is it that there is usually an overall feeling of insurmountable or crippling failure that prevents said individuals from bouncing back and trying much harder to go after what they want. This is partly but only superficially answered in a subplot involving one of Will’s friends, Charlie the chemistry teacher.

The screenplay by Kyle Pennekamp and Scott Turpel ought to have given more time to allow Charlie’s story to grow and evolve especially because the character has direct access to youths. I found it disappointing that the children are not allowed to say or express anything that may be considered too risky although such claims may hold a grain truth. There are very smart children out there and they are written as too passive in this film. Instead, the material would rather rely on a running joke that Charlie smokes a lot of weed and yet he is a teacher—like it is supposed to be ironic.

The second involves Will’s father, Roger, having separated from a career he so valued, there is a moment in the film where he confesses to his son that sometimes he loved his job more than he loved anybody else—including his family. I appreciated that honesty because it points to what is wrong about the American culture of productivity and how the culture can shift our priorities. When Roger’s job is taken away, he is adrift and Bryan Cranston plays the character with tragic realism. The performer overcomes a limited script by highlighting humanism over comedy. He may not be in control of how the character is written but he has control of how the character is portrayed. I wanted to know more about Will’s father.

It is sad and outrageous that the rest of the film tries too hard to become a mainstream comedy where feel-good messages triumphs over difficult truths and realities. “Get a Job” could have really made an impact and appealed to its subject if it had been completely true to the subject at hand. That is, it is a tough life after college and the paper given to you during graduation may not actually mean anything. By avoiding to tell specific and difficult truths, the film, while tolerable, turns into mere afterthought.

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