20 June 2009 | bob_meg
Lots of nice surprises, too bad the right audience may never find it
My first clue that "The Promotion" might have a little more below the surface than the usual Seann William Scott junior gag fest was the trailer...it didn't have too much easy humor and the plot seemed genuinely human, and even sensitive. Then there was the fact it was released by Miramax spin-off Dimension, an imprint more well known for horror movies than anything else. Something was up.
After seeing the film, I am pleased to say that lurking under the veneer of a slightly stupid mass-market comedy is a deftly knowing little indie movie waiting to surface.
The bad part of course is --- I don't know if many who would like the film will see it. It reminded me a little of "The Good Girl" with Jennifer Anniston. It was well scripted, rather slowly paced, and relied more on the script and storyline for laughs rather than leaning too heavily on the star-power of it's two principles.
The scene at the team-building retreat (dead-on if you've ever been to one) is a prime example. Yeah, there are a few pratfalls, but most of the time you're shriveling in your seat feeling horribly for John Reilly.
He's always been incredible at cutting to the human core of all his characters and he really shines in this part. You don't feel sorry for him as much as you feel empathy. And that's not the easiest thing to do with this character, who is far from lily white. As for Scott, he is definitely growing into an accomplished character actor and it's refreshing to see him tackle something this gray and still turn in a resonating performance. Some of the reviewers see him as a "wimp"....well, that's a bit too easy. I see him as distinctly human.
I'm also surprised that this comes from Steve Conrad, whose prior scripts I've always thought of as a bit heavy on the syrup. Nothing is forced here. Yeah, not much happens...this is a slice of life movie, albeit one with a funny crust.
It really is a shame it wasn't marketed a bit differently. It sucks to go into a movie expecting something and getting nothing close to what you expected out of it. Which, fortunately for me this time, wasn't the case.