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2.5 stars
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Overall Grade
2.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2 Stars
HD Video Quality
2.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3 Stars
Supplements
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Skip it

Management

Street Date:
September 29th, 2009
Reviewed by:
Drew Taylor
Review Date: 1
September 27th, 2009
Movie Release Year:
2008
Studio:
Image Entertainment
Length:
94 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated R
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

There are certain movies you might only see at a film festival. One might be a little offbeat, a little amateurish, but you think "Wow, that was sorta fun, for a film festival movie." And then you never, ever think about that movie again. If you were hard-pressed, under duress, to come up with the name of that movie, you couldn't conjure it up.

That's the kind of movie 'Management' is. It's light, it's sort of weird, it's pretty inept, and it never warrants an afterthought.

In the film Steve Zahn plays a guy who works at his parents' dumpy motel in an economically depressed area of the country. (His parents are played by 'Tremors' favorite Fred Ward and a very good Margo Martindale.) He really hasn't grown up, and his boring life sure isn't helping things. We're not given any real psychological insight into his character, but there definitely seems to be something "off" about him (more on that in a minute). One day, a glamorous young woman (played by Jennifer Aniston) comes to stay at the motel.

Zahn is immediately drawn to her, and in a bizarre conversation, Aniston agrees to let him touch her butt. There is actual, painful dialogue that is more or less to that effect. It's creepy and cringe-worthy, but it sets the tone for the rest of the movie. A little while later, Aniston and Zahn have sex. Then she goes back to her job and life and leaves Zahn in the dust at the family motel.

That begins a series of herky-jerky set pieces where Zahn basically stalks her for an inordinate amount of time. It's all very off-putting and awful. There's something very clearly unwell with this guy (at one point we see him pacing around his tiny room, yelling at a travel agent to get him a ticket to Aniston's town). And the story's back-and-forth, with Zahn traveling to and from destinations, totally undermines the narrative flow of the movie. At one point he comes home, and his mother has died. This has barely been set up, except once, very early on, when Zahn mentions that she is "sick." Flash forward, and for some reason his mother's death has given him the power to parachute into Jennifer Aniston's pool. This last section, with Aniston married to a gonzo Woody Harrelson, playing a reformed punk, is mildly amusing, but just as inexplicable as the rest of the movie.

Ultimately, where 'Management' fails is that it wants to have it both ways. Clearly, this is a kind of stalker comedy, but it never fully plumbs those depths. And it's this refusal to actually engage with the character's dark side that makes things really uneasy. A movie like 'Observe & Report,' which actually goes to those dark places, unapologetically, works better because it's not trying to play to the romantic comedy fans that might have wandered in. 'Management' on the other hand is creepy and weird, and then, in a final reconciliation, is suddenly cute and cuddly. Because, you know, this kind of behavior is totally normal. Except, well, not.

In the end, it's probably best to just forget about 'Management.' I did.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 (1.85:1 aspect ratio) transfer on this 25GB disc is mostly lousy. The movie seems to have been shot completely with overhead lights, and all of the characters look like wax figures that were forced to stand up and walk around.

While there isn't any noticeable grain, noise, or other technical issues, the image seems soft. Color doesn't pop, in part because the palette is so muted. When blacks and shadows do appear, they're not exactly deep and inky, but they don't falter either. It's just that a healthy (or rather unhealthy) application of digital noise reduction seems to have been applied, robbing the image of whatever sharpness would have come through.

Is the 'Management' transfer offensively bad? No, not at all. You can watch it, no problem. It's just not very good, and when you factor in the increased price for the Blu-ray, it doesn't seem worth it. And the excuse that "it's just a romantic comedy, it doesn't have to look all that great" is complete nonsense. Again, look at the infinitely more successful 'Observe & Report' and that jaw-dropping transfer. I rest my case.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The lossless DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio mix is similarly drab. While the twinkly indie romantic comedy score by Mychael Danna and Rob Simonsen sounds good, and there are occasional moments where the surround sound field is utilized (like when Woody Harrelson is shooting at Steve Zahn - don't ask), it's a dialogue-heavy track, with most things front and center. That said, the dialogue is always audible, and considering there's not a lot else going on in this movie, I guess that's important. While you shouldn't be expecting a 'Fast & the Furious'-style mix on a movie like this, you would like a little life in the mix, and this just doesn't deliver.

There's not much else to say about this mix. Although some reviewers are reporting audio encoding glitches, I didn't encounter any such issues on my copy.

There are also subtitles in English SDH, and Spanish.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

All the special features on this release are in standard definition, taking another point off the "reasons to upgrade" list.

  • Feature Commentary with Steve Zahn and director Stephen Belber This giggly commentary track isn't going to change your mind if you're someone who hated this movie (me), or if you wanted any particular insight into the film's conception and production.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 15:18) This is composed of eight scenes, which were rightfully removed, including a horrifically unfunny cameo by 'Sweet Home Alabama's' Josh Lucas. Ouch.
  • Gag Reel (SD, 12:41) This is way too long for a gag reel, especially for a movie as woeful as this. This is by far the most skippable feature.
  • Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:30) Yawn.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

They give us zero, so I give them zero for HD extras.

Final Thoughts

'Management' is not a good movie. It's a half-baked romantic comedy that wants to probe some darker psychological elements, but not at the cost of its cuddly romantic comedy shtick. The film's video and audio tracks (one waxy, one bland) don't warrant the extra money for this Blu-ray upgrade. Ditto the lackluster, standard def special features. If you were one of the few who saw and enjoyed 'Management' in theaters and want to add it to your collection, you might just want to go for the DVD. Everyone else is advised to skip this release.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray
  • BD-25

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH
  • Spanish

Supplements

  • Audio commentary with Steve Zahn and director Stephen Belber
  • Deleted scenes
  • Gag reel
  • Trailers
List Price
$17.97
Amazon
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3rd Party
$4.00
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