‘Get a Job’ is a Painful Comedy That Never Should’ve Seen the Light of Day

GameStop, Inc.

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Every generation looks at the one that follows it as a bunch of entitled no-goodniks who don’t know the true meaning of hard work. Of course this can only be seen through an older set of eyes, ones very distanced from the numerous follies of youth. But if those damn kids could just pull themselves up by their bootstraps, they wouldn’t have anything to complain about. Except those damn kids could be hindered by sociological factors that extend well beyond work ethic, but all of that is immaterial since it’s easier to just call them lazy. Get a Job, the long-delayed comedy from director Dylan Kidd, takes the easy road in a laugh-free movie that only wishes those damn kids would just shut up and get to work, ethics and morality be damned. Get a Job attempts to peddle an Ayn Rand fantasy under the guise of raunchy comedy. The only thing that is exceptional about this film is the amount of talent it squanders.

When we first see Will Davis (Miles Teller) everything is going great for him. He just graduated college. Both him and his girlfriend Jillian (Anna Kendrick) have jobs lined up, with Will set to work for the LA Weekly. As Will gets ready to embark on this exciting new step in his life, his father Roger (Bryan Cranston) slips him a sizable check to get on his feet. Thinking everything will go smoothly from here on out, Will blows the money on a 70-inch TV for his bro pad shared with his pals, all of whom are embarking on new careers. There’s Charlie (Nicholas Braun), a total stoner, who is about to take a job teaching middle school chemistry; Luke (Brandon T. Jackson), another stoner, is suited up to work his way up to Wall Street broker; and Ethan (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), yet another stoner, stays at home to develop his app which allows users to stalk anyone without their consent.

But little goes right for Will. Upon his first day of work he discovers that he has no job, cutbacks have rendered the position promised to him no more. Upon asking his father for help, Will learns that his father has been placed out of work. After a brief stint working nights at a sleazy motel, Will secures employment at a job placement firm – they produce video resumes (was that ever a thing?), making the most of Will’s video production knowledge. As Will’s father continues his desperate hunt for gainful employment, Will himself is struggling to fit in to the rigid confines of the corporate world. Then people learn some life lessons, they grow as a person, and relationships are made stronger in the topsy-turvy world of being an adult.

The world that the characters of Get a Job populate doesn’t resemble anything resembling reality, and that’s taking into consideration that the film was produced in 2012. Anything related to political or class issues are briskly brushed aside in favor of a character proclaiming that he’s one step closer to being part of the 1%, a woefully antiquated reference to the Occupy Wall Street movement. The workplace that Will inhabits overflows with broad and crude caricatures, including Alison Brie as the slutty assistant and Marcia Gay Harden hamming it up as the ruthless executive, but that doesn’t mean her sexual proclivities don’t become a topic. Finally, there’s Bruce Davidson as the main executive of the company, whom we’re repeatedly informed has a “minotaur cock.” Simply, the movie uses sexuality as a crude cover for its complete ineptitude of its characters.

Even the attempts to bridge the generation gap are more comically inept than the comedy itself. After Roger has a hard time getting interviews because of his age, he decides to dye his hair and beard a shoe polish black, prompting his son to make a joke about the late infomercial pitchman Billy Mays. This joke would’ve been woefully out of place even in 2012 as Mays passed away in 2009 – shocking as it may seem, jokes about people in commercials have a remarkable short shelf life. But Roger’s trouble leads him into some troubling territory. He becomes obsessed with one particular job, calling the “decision maker” at his work and home, effectively stalking him until he gets a job interview, which he does because Get a Job has a remarkably permissive attitude towards stalking.

Being permissive towards stalking is just one of many problematic elements of Get a Job. At one point, Luke is ordered by his boss (played by John C. McGinley) to drink a mason jar full of deer semen in order to secure a promotion. By the film’s end, Luke is cheering on the next sap that submits to the cruel ritual. Call me crazy, but I believe that no job should require that its employees drink the semen of any animal. But this is all part of the film’s buck up attitude, which typically means that people should degrade themselves for their employer. Because Get a Job just loves itself some stalking, the film concludes with everyone collaborating on Ethan’s stalking app, the dark side of which is never given even the slightest lip service.

Get a Job bafflingly focuses on each of the male characters’ quests to make their way at their places of employment while relegating Anna Kendrick’s Jillian to the sidelines. Never do we see her at her fancy new job that affords her the opportunity to spend $800 on a pair of shoes, and when she eventually loses her job the audience has no reason to care as they’ve never seen her perform these tasks. Is she qualified? I don’t know. Was she wrongfully terminated? Beats me. Her character simply exists to tell Will at the end to follow his dreams. Which he does when starts his own production company to make dick joke videos featuring a pimp (played by Jay Pharoah) for an Axe Body Spray knock off.

The two times I did laugh were unintentional – Will has a video go viral and receives a job opportunity through a comment on YouTube, which apparently is the first time that anything helpful has ever occurred in the comments section of YouTube. But Get a Job posits that the true culprit that has coddled a generation and made them unwilling to pull themselves up by the bootstraps – participation trophies. One character even proclaims that his $200 a week marijuana habit is directly caused by his receiving participation trophies as a child.

Even if Get a Job had come out in a timely manner after its production, it would still feel woefully out of touch and devoid of laughs. This is a film that obviously went through some massive trimming in the lengthy time between production and release, but the edits were an act of mercy. The 80 minutes spent watching Get a Job were among the longest 80 minutes of my life, staring stone-faced into the ether as I’m bombarded with inane images featuring an idiotic worldview. There was no way to save Get a Job from itself. It sat on the shelf with its stellar cast for so long because it’s truly an awful movie. Perhaps the only way to salvage Get a Job would’ve been to leave it on the shelf for over a decade, let its infamy grow over time like a modern version of The Day the Clown Cried. There’s no reason to lay eyes upon Get a Job aside from morbid curiosity. However, life’s too short. Read a book. Go outside. Work overtime for free. Try amateur dentistry. All are more enjoyable options than sitting through Get a Job.

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