SXSW: Stiffler and Ross in the House!

Sunday was a pretty lazy day, so I pretty much just prepped myself

for the big double feature of the evening –- The Promotion

followed by Run

Fatboy Run.

The lines were long, stretching all the way around the block, and

fortunately for me I knew the press rep covering the event. She let us

locals slide in and get good seats before the mob set in to pack the

theater. First up was The Promotion. Sean William Scott was

in the house for the film, but I never actually got the chance to so

much as glimpse him. After a lengthy wait (the price you pay for

getting in early) the film rolled up and I found myself sorely

disappointed.

A good friend of mine reviewed this calling it “Office Space

in a grocery store.” Quite the contrary, this film is everything that Office

Space isn’t. Unlike its predecessor, which was about finding

yourself while struggling against corporate culture, this is about the

sad story of how two men try to destroy each other while buying into it

instead. Starring Sean William Scott and John C. Reilly, it is the tale

of two men vying for a manager position at a new grocery store. Trouble

is, they’re both equally qualified for the job. What follows is a

series of uncomfortable events and a childish back and forth that wants

desperately to be Rushmore-like

in quality, but falls fairly short of that goal. Much like the

writer-director’s previous effort, The

Weather Man, this film seems to linger on the banality of life

rather than its joys, leaving you with more of a “life sucks” vibe

rather than wanting to celebrate it. A well made but depressing film

that took me back to the very worst parts of my life working retail, I

don’t even want to so much as be reminded of this film again. Grade:

C.

I quickly escaped the theater and right outside ran into a good

friend of mine, editor Frank Reynolds. He’s a longtime festival buddy

who I bonded with years ago over drinks at the Driskill when we

discovered that I had reviewed an undistributed indie that he’d worked

on and been particularly proud of. Since then he’s edited such films as

In the Bedroom and Cape of Good Hope. We caught up

and he told me about a few of his upcoming projects and shared his

excitement for the upcoming The Alphabet Killer (starring

Eliza Dushku and Carey Elwes), which he worked on. He got me pretty

excited about it, as he’s always been very candid with me about which

films that he's edited are turkeys and which ones are solid.

So we carried on like that until the next film was introduced. They

began with the usual “Welcome to SXSW, hope you’re enjoying it,” yada,

yada... until they introduced the film’s director. David Schwimmer.

Instead of David Schwimmer walking out, it was Ross from Friends.

He gave that goofy giggle and coyly pushed back his hair and the

audience went nuts. “I love you Ross,” called a woman from the balcony.

He gave a goofy smile and talked about how excited he was to direct.

They rolled the film, which was fantastic and then David Schwimmer came

out. No longer Ross, he was confident, clearly thrilled that the film

had played well and the audience had stayed in its seats fro the

Q&A.

And he gave a great Q&A, talking about how the film went from

being set in New York to its acquisition by a British company and how

they rebuilt it to be made in London. He was very candid about the

first-time mistakes he made, detailing how he’d not set aside enough

money to get the music he wanted and how lucky he was to get the great

soundtrack he had. All in all he proved himself to be quite adept at

his new craft and was personable enough to seem like someone I couldn’t

wait to see behind the camera again. My only disappointment was that

his writers Michael Ian Black and Simon Pegg (who is also the star of

the film), both Austin festival regulars, weren’t there to back him up.

Oh well. Maybe next time.

------------------------------------------

C. Robert Cargill - - - Email

Me