‘Get a Job’: a slacker comedy that slacks on being entertaining

Charles Liu

Though it was released in theaters and on video streaming services on March 25, slacker comedy “Get a Job” was filmed back in 2012 and shelved — and it should’ve stayed that way. 

It’s got three big stars: Miles Teller, Anna Kendrick and Bryan Cranston, who are clearly in it for the cash. What the movie doesn’t have are an engaging story, memorable laughs and characters whose names are worth remembering. Throughout its brief runtime, we are dragged through multiple storylines as the protagonists navigate the competitive modern economy in search of jobs.

Teller plays the lead character, a wayward millennial who specializes in making videos, and he manages to land a position developing video resumes. He’s upset because the big bad establishment, i.e. his bosses, are snuffing out his creativity. Cranston plays Teller’s father, who is also on the market for a new job, but he’s having trouble finding anyone who will
interview him. 

Kendrick occasionally pops up as Teller’s girlfriend — she’s there to complain about how messy the guys are and kiss Teller, then learn to use pot. Her character has no narrative purpose except to hit us over the head with the film’s theme, which is “don’t sell your soul for money.” That’s a funny idea coming from a production as soulless as this one.

Brandon T. Jackson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Nicholas Braun also feature in subplots that lead nowhere. Jackson’s character works in stock trading, and his storyline revolves groan-inducing skits about bodily fluids. Mintz-Plasse plays a tech expert who develops an app that allows users to stalk other people, but he’s a riff on every other Mintz-Plasse role. Braun is a pothead chemistry teacher and basketball coach. Like Kendrick, none of them serve the story — they’re all here to fill up space that Teller and Cranston can’t.

“Get a Job” never rises above generic. It doesn’t have wit or energy, and the writing is clunky. Character moments that are supposed to be heartfelt or emotional aren’t organic or earned — they are just sporadically tossed out between unfunny “funny parts” and executed with little to no grace. Every conversation either preaches an idea or recounts an event that a better film would’ve allowed us to see — listening to Cranston boast about a successful interview or Jackson complain about costing his firm big money isn’t exciting. That’s not to say watching those events may have been entertaining, but at least it would’ve been slightly more involving.

It’s not a spoiler that “Get a Job” has a happy ending, and by God is it unearned. The movie closes with a vapid montage about why we all need to “be special,” and viewers are supposed to be glad that these characters have found places for themselves. They won’t be — not when they have only a skin-deep understanding of who these people are. There is zero meaning to Teller’s voiceover, and you’ll leave the picture infuriated rather than inspired.

Something worth noting is the film’s weird obsession with the “Halo” video games. Nearly every gathering in the protagonists’ crappy house involves them sitting around the TV and watching someone play it. The “Halo” theme is distractingly loud, and it never jives with the dialogue. Not that their words are interesting enough to listen to. The music, on the other hand, is gold. 

Allison Brie’s character, a colleague of Teller’s, best sums up the experience of sitting through “Get a Job.” She relentlessly hits on Teller, and when he’s finally had enough, he demands, “What is wrong with you?”

“I’m really bored,” she replies.

So are we Allison. So are we. 

“Get a Job”

Running Time: 83 minutes

Rating: R

Score: 0.5/5 stars