Miles Teller might be one of the best actors of his generation. Like it or not, he also represents it. He's the Tom Cruise of today, a cocky bastard who's four parts ego to one part clueless, yet always has the talent to finish on top. And like Cruise, the actor himself is self-aware about his characters —- he's a shrewd bastard, but boy, does he win you over.
In Dylan Kidd's Get a Job, Teller plays wannabe videographer Will Davis, a millennial raised like a king and now, thanks to the lingering crunch of the 2008 recession, abused like a serf. "The first time I pooped, there was applause," boasts Davis, and thanks to Teller's bravado, you believe him. The same goes for his roommates, all of whom recently graduated from college with big, hazy blueprints for success, from Luke (Brandon T. Jackson) conquering Wall Street to Ethan (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) convincing Warren Buffett to invest in his terrifying stalking app. Girlfriend Jillian (Anna Kendrick), the token female character who doesn't get treated like trash, can't resist buying $700 shoes for her entry-level gig. Only stoner Charlie (Nicholas Braun) has realistic non-goals -- he's going to get high and teach middle school science -- which makes him the scariest of all.
If Davis's videos don't immediately conquer the Internet, he figures he can borrow rent money from his father Roger (Bryan Cranston), who has one of those square management jobs that bore bystanders the minute he opens his mouth. But then Roger is downsized, too, and both the Baby Boomer dad and his ultra-millennial son are forced to, well, read the title.
Director Kidd was born in 1969, which makes him solidly Generation X. He uses his generation's cynicism to make fun of everyone else: the Boomers for trusting that capitalism had their back, and the millennials they raised to follow their dreams, which, after graduation, quickly turn into nightmares. He scores a couple of easy points. When Davis, taking advice from a stripper who advises him to "stay flexible," switches direction from comedy sketches to corporate videography -- in an on-the-nose touch, he's hired to shoot video résumés for desperate middle-aged men -- he swaggers into the office like the company's hipster savior. Instantly, his boss Katherine (Marcia Gay Harden) publicly shames him for his sneakers and wrinkled shirt, and Teller flushes like he's never been scolded. Later, there's a lovely beat when Davis takes his dad out for dinner at a cheap Mexican joint and, for the first time ever, picks up the check.
Get a Job thinks it deserves a gold star for highlighting the post-college unemployment crisis. But it's more interested in bro slapstick than in reality. Here, every boss is a villain. (One even forces new hires to chug deer semen.) And, weirdly, every woman is a stripper, hooker, or sexual harasser -- from Davis's co-worker Tanya (Alison Brie), who offers him blow jobs in the office bathroom, to the imperious Katherine, who sleeps with the head of the company to secure her position. (Worse, the movie's vengeance on her is gross.) Oh, and did I mention the magical Latino janitor (Jorge Garcia) who lurks in doorways and disappears when Davis turns around?
I'm all for a scene where baked-out Charlie, now also coaching middle school basketball for extra weed money, orders his kids to smash the trophies they won for coming in last place. "Do you want trophies for losing?" he yells, and the scared young boys snap the heads off their worthless plastic statuettes, perhaps in fear of growing up like him. Clearly, the economy has given Get a Job a reason to be sour. But there's no excuse for being so sexist.