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3/12/09

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The subtle American comedy is going the way of the dinosaur, everything these days has to be brash, obvious and forgettable five minutes after the movie is over. Why else would we pay to see the same jokes over and over again? You can only see a guy get hit in the nuts so many times before it loses its effect. I wasn't actually expecting a film so well crafted and realistic going into The Promotion. The trailer uses all the loudest jokes in the film, trying to sell it like every other comedy, but don't expect the usual brainless Sandler or Ferrell vehicle.

They try to sell it with the simplistic concept of two guys going after the same job, doing anything and everything to outdo one another, but the film really isn't about that. There are certainly those elements there, but the film digs much deeper. The Promotion is actually a love letter to the typical American worker. Not everybody has an exciting job that deals in fortune and fame, and I think that most movies don't bother to focus on these sort of everyday men. Who are heroes in their own right. The film portrays these guys as real people, there is no good or bad guy, they're simply men trying to provide for their families, dealing with the thousands of stresses of everyday life.

I've always liked Seann William Scott, he burst onto the scene as Stifler in American Pie, and got typecast as that sort of actor, but here he gets to show his range, and he has a nice quiet performance as Doug Stabler, assistant manager at a national grocery store. His battles with stock boys and parking lot security may seem mundane to an outside observer, but writer/director Steve Conrad brings us so convincingly into his world, that these are a heroes journey. When Richard Whelner, another assistant manager from the Canadian branch, shows up to work along side him, it rocks his world to the core. And it's very nice to see John C. Reilly back to playing a realistic character, I was getting sick of his Will Ferrell sidekick roles. Even Fred Armisen, who's never met a role he couldn't turn up to ten, convincingly portrays the store's head manager who stands between them. The women in these guys lives are also well drawn by Lily Taylor and Jenna Fischer. The whole film feels very natural, it's incredibly funny, while also working as a drama. Don't go into it expecting a laugh a minute, let it draw you into its world and I think this is a film that'll stick with you for a while. - Grade: A-

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