Tuesday, September 2, 2008


The Promotion is a 2008 American comedy film written and directed by Steven Conrad.

Doug (Seann William Scott) is a seemingly ordinary guy who works as the assistant manager of a supermarket near Chicago. When the owners of the market announce they're opening a new branch near Doug's neighborhood, he applies to become manager of the new store, and both he and his wife (Jenna Fischer) assume he's a shoo-in to get the job. But Richard (John C. Reilly), a gregarious recent hire at the store who has relocated to Illinois from Canada, announces he's also applying for the management position, and a keen rivalry develops between Doug and Richard even as they strive to act like friends on the surface.

As the competition grows between the two, their personality flaws become increasingly evident -- Doug's short temper, Richard's history of drug abuse -- and when Richard's wife (Lili Taylor) leaves him, the contest starts taking an uncomfortable turn. The Promotion also stars Fred Armisen, Gil Bellows, and Bobby Cannavale.

The Promotion looked to me like it was going to be a good one. It stars Seann William Scott and John C. Reilly, both really good comic actors. The trailer had me sold but then I started to read reviews for it and they weren't so good. I decided to watch it anyways based on the stars of the movie, as I do sometimes when I can't decide on if I want to watch a certain movie or not. After I had watched it, I came to the conclusion that The Promotion also hadn't decided on what it wanted to be.

It's filled with some of the best comedic actors around and with some funny dialogue. But it's also filled with uneasy and dramatic moments that keep the comedic elements from coming out. The movie has elements to make it funny, like Reilly's self-help tape that he listens to that says his own name. Then it has moments that start out to be funny and while you are waiting for the final big laugh, turns around and becomes weird. Like the scenes with the Teddy Grahams guy or the black kids who hang out in the store parking lot.

The movie doesn't know what to do with itself. There isn't a rule saying you can't have a comedic movie filled with bits of drama but you at least have to have some consistency with both of them and not have them all over the place. The characters in the movie change on a dime, mostly Reilly's character who is nice one second and mean the next for no reason. The movie also doesn't seem to know what great actors it has. Fischer just goes throughout the movie just listening to what Scott has to say and not uttering one funny line. Taylor has a horrible Scottish accent for no reason and is barely in the movie when she could have been used more. Armisen and Cannavale, both good actors, play roles that could have been played by pretty much anyone as they are not given much to do.

The movie also makes a big deal about Reilly's character being Canadian, however it never uses that fact for anything funny other than to stress the point that he must be a nice guy. Reilly's Canadian accent came and went so much that I wasn't sure if I should just leave the door open and forget about it. The Promotion is filled with great things that it doesn't know what to do with. Conrad would be the one to blame since he wrote and directed. Maybe he just had too much on his plate since this was his first time directing a film like this. He also wrote The Pursuit of Happyness and The Weather Man, so he knows how to mix light drama with comedy in the same movie.

Despite it's many flaws, The Promotion is not a waste of your time. It has some good laughs in it with Scott and Reilly doing the best they can. I'd say it makes a good rental on a Saturday night if your local video store doesn't have the movie you were actually there to get.


The DVD features deleted scenes; director's commentary; audio commentary; a making-of featurette and outtakes.



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