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Management should be dismissed



Combining a jock's air of entitlement with a slacker's sense of detachment has allowed Steve Zahn to carve out a lengthy (if not exactly stellar) career in all manner of indie fare. Not charismatic enough to hold his own in major-studio efforts, Zahn can usually be found in supporting roles in small-scale efforts, sniffing around the edges while the top-billed stars soak up all the acclaim.

With Management, writer-director Stephen Belber takes a chance by handing the quirky actor the largest part. It's a move that neither helps nor hinders the project, since the end result would have been desultory no matter who was holding the reins.

Zahn stars as Mike Cranshaw, who works for his parents (Margo Martindale and Fred Ward) at their rinky-dink motel in Arizona. A lonely loser with no real prospects, Mike only finds his senses awakened once pretty Sue Claussen (Jennifer Aniston, trying hard under the circumstances) walks up to the front desk. A cold-fish businesswoman (because Hollywood believes no other kind exists), Sue is annoyed by this man-child who's constantly slobbering over her, so she allows him to touch her (clothed) bottom just so he'll leave her alone.

So far, so believable (if just barely), but then, in a head-smacking bit of plotting, Sue suddenly decides to screw Mike in the motel laundry room just before taking off to return to her Maryland home. Now hopelessly smitten, Mike drops everything and goes to Maryland, where Sue, instead of scrambling for a restraining order, develops a friendship with her stalker.

From here, the movie only gets more idiotic (not to mention even more sloppily written), as Mike quickly lands a bestest-buddy (James Hiroyuki Liao) who helps him secure a job and a place to stay within a matter of seconds, briefly joins a monastery in the hopes of becoming a Buddhist monk, and contends with Sue's psychotic boyfriend, a grotesque caricature played in loco-emotive fashion by Woody Harrelson.

So does it all end happily ever after? No fair spilling the beans, but let's just say that, according to this misguided movie's wisdom, every woman should be so lucky to have her very own stalker to help her get her life in order.

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