The Promotion

2014-06-23 14:27
What's it about:

Doug Stauber (Sean William Scott) is a diligent assistant manager at large grocery chain store, Donaldsons, and is convinced that he is first choice for a managerial opening at a new store in his neighbourhood. The one obstacle standing in his way to a better job is his colleague, Richard Wehlner (John C Reilly), recently transferred from a store in Canada. Richard is also friendly, motivated, and works hard, making Doug’s future pretty uncertain. As the two men are made to jump through various hoops in the rounds of interviews leading up to the final decision, things between them get ugly as they fight tooth and claw for that bigger slice of the pie.

What we thought about it:

The Promotion is one of those movies that nails what it is trying to do, but is let down by the overall aim rather than execution. Sitting somewhere between cringe worthy work comedies like Office Space and The Office, and more over the top Judd Apatow style fare like The 40 Year Old Virgin, it never pushes the material to either extreme, and lacks either the belly laughs or uncomfortable squirming that made the aforementioned movies great.

The pairing of Sean William Scott and John C. Reilly is like a second tier comedy match made in heaven, and the two men are extremely watchable, even in the often lengthy dead spaces between successful jokes. Scott benefits a lot from playing a polite and restrained character for a change rather than a hyperactive wise ass. It’s actually refreshing to see him as someone you don’t want to punch in the face after spending two minutes in their presence, and he makes Doug a very earnest guy struggling through a swamp of unending setbacks.

For John C. Reilly, the ex-addict, ex-biker, tea-totaling Canadian Richard, must have been a walk in the park, and he joins the gallery of amusing oddballs that have littered his career. Even though there is so much about the character that should be funny, like the awful self help tape that accompanies most of his waking life and his immense difficulty giving up swearing and smoking, it is a slightly sheepish performance that never really pays off in terms of laughter.

The rest of the stereotypical characters and scenarios crop up - the embarrassing mishaps at team building camp, the troublesome gang of homies in the parking area, and a weird foreign guy who pops up randomly and menaces Doug for no apparent reason, but it fades into some generic US comedy blur within minutes.

While it is less stupid, lazy, and insulting to the intelligence than many US comedies of this kind (Dane Cook and Jason Biggs – please die now), it isn’t that funny. There are a handful of utterly hilarious moments, but for the most part it wavers between barely quirky and drama lite, failing to satisfy on either front. While it didn’t totally suck, recommending it would make me a hypocrite.


Two rivals working at a large chain store compete ruthlessly for an upcoming promotion in this bittersweet comedy.

Viper 2009/04/23 12:34
Sorry to say but this movie does not deserve to come to the big screen. It is utter rubbish. Both actors wasted their time in making this. I would rather spend my time having a root canal done. It’s about as pleasant as having your finger nails pulled.
Uncle 2009/04/23 21:52
Yip. Ol' mister cellophane is better than this.
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