Get a Job: Nobody Gets a Trophy, by Tyler Smith
Imagine being spit out into an economic recession with minimal skills and maximum entitlement. It wouldn’t take long for whatever confidence one might have to quickly fall away, and the fall would be hard. This is the primary hook of Dylan Kidd’s Get a Job, a shaggy dog comedy with social commentary aspirations. And, indeed, there is probably a good movie to be made from this premise – and, with a cast including Miles Teller, Anna Kendrick, Bryan Cranston, and countless other talented comedic actors, there probably should be – but Get a Job is most definitely not that movie. It too often falls into the trap of its protagonists; it asks the audience to focus on its intentions, but forgets to actually deliver the goods.
The story follows an ensemble of likable young college grads as they go out into the world in search of their dream jobs. They immediately get a rude awakening, as they realize that their “Everybody Gets a Trophy” upbringing hasn’t prepared them for the rejection and discouragement that the modern job market has to offer. Soon, any desire of achieving their dream is quickly brushed aside in favor of any job that will help pay the bills.
Our protagonist is Will (Miles Teller), a well-meaning videographer whose introduction into the corporate world is jarring and eye-opening, as his sloppy appearance and goofy attitude is quickly shut down by his boss. As he turns to his parents for money, he is shocked to learn that his father, Roger (Bryan Cranston), was recently laid off and is also looking for work. While the rest of the characters, including Will’s girlfriend (Anna Kendrick), struggle to find their place in the professional world, Will and Roger remain our primary focus. We see one character being brought in to the corporate world while the other is being callously kicked out of it. This juxtaposition leads to scenes that are truly heartbreaking, as we are reminded that a recession hits everybody, and there really isn’t such a thing as “job security” anymore.
Unfortunately, the film seems a bit schizophrenic, as though it is at war with itself. For a while it appears to explore and condemn the bratty entitlement of its main characters, but then quickly shifts and seems to celebrate the carefree lifestyle that led to it. It’s like a father who insists we clean our room one moment, but then lets us have a beer the next, lest we think he’s not cool.
The performers do what they can to bring these two tones together into one coherent idea, but it never quite works. Miles Teller, ever charming and detached, seems to lean more towards the serious commentary side, while other actors like Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Alison Brie almost exist in another dimension. Only Bryan Cranston seems able to complement the silly with the sad, creating a character whose goofy behavior covers a deep desperation. Were the film to take its cues from Cranston’s performance, it could be both comedically and emotionally effective.
In the end, though, Get a Job is a waste of resources. An interesting director (the man behind Roger Dodger), an extremely talented cast, and a solid premise all seem to be pushed aside in favor of a completely middle-of-the-road raunchy comedy, filled with bong smoke and strip clubs. This could be acceptable, if it is made clear that this is the behavior that the characters will need to leave behind if they’re going to attempt to live in an adult world. However, the film can’t decide where its heart really lies; is it trying to vilify perpetual adolescence or glamorize it? Either decision would have made Get a Job a better film. As it stands now, the film takes on the less-desirable traits of its main character; on the precipice of adulthood, but not wanting to let go of its childish desires. It is perfectly fine for a character to lack a definitive point of view, but for a film to lack one is unsatisfying and unacceptable.