“The Promotion” – Susan Granger reviews

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This amusing, occasionally insightful workplace comedy revolves around two rivals for the same job as manager of a new branch of a Donaldson supermarket in Chicago.

Having been assured of the promotion by his boss (Fred Armisen), the meek veteran assistant manager, Doug Stauber (Seann William Scott), does whatever he’s told. After all, his perky medical-assistant wife Jen (Jenna Fischer from “The Office”) yearns for a house and they’d like to start a family. But complications occur with the arrival of Richard (John C. Reilly), an amiable transfer from Montreal, who’s bucking for the same, better-paying job that Doug covets. He’s married to Laurie (Lili Taylor), a Scotswoman, and they already have a baby daughter.

While Doug’s told he’s a “shoo-in,” he’s known to exaggerate his accomplishments and hide negative evaluation cards he’s received from customers. On the other hand, Richard is a former alcoholic who listens to self-help CDs, even as he smokes marijuana in the workplace. Complicating their passive-aggressive competition, as the mega-grocery chain continually tries to maintain good community relations, the tempers of both men are sorely tried by several of the local delinquents who continually cause trouble in the parking lot.

In casting this humanistic, low-key, character-driven satire, writer and first-time director Steve Conrad (“The Weather Man,” “The Pursuit of Happyness”) hit the jackpot, daring to choose clownish Seann William Scott (Stifler in “American Pie”) as the rigid Everyman, and John C. Reilly (“Chicago,” “Walk Hard”) always delivers a credible performance. These actors smooth over Conrad’s bland, repetitive style and uneven pacing. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Promotion” is a bittersweet, flimsy 5. After the gamesmanship, it’s obvious that – with their anger management issues – neither employee is really qualified for the coveted position.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.