A lot of time I get to go to screenings of movies I’ve never heard of—it’s not all big blockbusters and Oscar bait, folks. But usually I’ll find something in the press notes that makes me go “Oh! This might be pretty good.” Maybe it’s a premise, maybe it’s a director, maybe it’s even the production company if they’ve been doing great stuff lately. In the case of Dylan Kidd’s Get a Job, it was the cast. When you read the list of names — Miles Teller, Anna Kendrick, Bryan Cranston, Marcia Gay Harden, Alison Brie, John C. McGinley — it’s one of the better casts you could try to put together. And yet it’s all a trick: They got together a brilliant cast to trick you into the thinking Get a Job might be good. Rest assured, folks, it is not.
The first thing you need to ask yourself when a comedy, indie or otherwise, has a cast as impressive as this is, “Why haven’t I heard of this?” There’s any number of reasons, but with respect to Get a Job, it was because it was filmed in 2012 (yes, four years ago) and shelved until now. That was a nugget of info I didn’t have prior to watching, but I’m sharing that with you now, up front, so you have all the facts going in. In 2012, Teller hadn’t been in Whiplash, Kendrick was Oscar-nominated but Pitch Perfect hadn’t yet made waves, and Cranston had only won three Emmys (look, he was always pretty awesome). The reason for this to come out now has only to do with trying to cash-in while they still can.
Teller plays Will, an incredibly cocky graduate who thinks, finally, his years at an unpaid intern at LA Weekly have led to his getting a job. Unfortunately, the company downsizes on what would have been his first day. He tries to find any job he can—which includes working at a motel used exclusively for prostitution run by Marc Maron, who is in a total of three shots. Not three scenes, three shots. Ultimately, he takes his video-making abilities to become the videographer for, of all things, a high-end career-finding firm, where his boss (Harden) wants to quash any of his creativity in favor of doing things by the book.
Meanwhile, Will’s dad (Cranston) has lost his job and spends every day in a coffee shop trying to find a new one, fixating on a specific one for a specific firm and not letting go. Will’s roommates are also looking to make it, as either a day trader (Brandon T. Jackson’s character), a middle school chemistry teacher (Nicholas Braun’s character), and a total creep making an app to be able to stalk people via their phone (Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s character). Kendrick’s Jillian, Will’s girlfriend, gets a great job and then loses it before we’ve ever seen what her job entailed.
First and foremost, this movie isn’t funny. I didn’t laugh at all, and maybe only smirked a couple of times due to Jorge Garcia’s odd turn as a wise, drug-dealing janitor. The other problem is the movie is trying to be really pointed in its depiction of how hard it is to get a job, but they drop the ball when it comes to Teller’s character—the typical whiner/slacker who just wants to be creative and arty and then gets a really well-paying job, and even gets promoted, but learns no lesson because he never reflects on what he’s got because it’s not fulfilling his soul. Whatever, dude.
Kendrick is totally wasted and ends up being just “the girlfriend” who is (at first) very uptight when she has a job, and then becomes a stoner when she loses it and has to move in with her boyfriend and his heathen friends. Alison Brie does her best playing an overly horny co-worker of Teller’s. Really, most of the cast perform admirably, but there’s really no saving a movie this messy and unfocused. It’s only 83 minutes long and one can assume it was much, much longer in the initial edits and only just managed to be this coherent — which isn’t very — by shaving away most of the characters’ whole storylines.
This is a movie that was meant to be a reflection of the job market in 2012, where people were graduating college and learning that it wasn’t all sewn up for them, and others who’ve put their whole lives into a career for 30 years might be out on their ass the next day. There’s a lot of gold to be mined from this conceit—especially when the economy is still not doing very well—but it completely drops the ball due to contrived and exceedingly convenient situations that lose any and all oomph.
For only being 83 minutes, Get a Job was just not fun to sit through. Several times I closed my eyes to avoid having to look at certain needlessly embarrassing moments. I suggest you all close your eyes and go to sleep and wake up and pretend you’ve never heard of this movie.
Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor and a film and TV critic for Nerdist.com. Follow him on Twitter!