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Management Review


Neatly mixing whimsical quirkiness, straight-faced absurdity and affecting melancholy, "Management" is a slight but likable dramedy that signals a promising directorial debut for playwright-screenwriter Stephen Belber ("Tape," "The Laramie Project"). Pic benefits greatly from appealing perfs by Jennifer Aniston and Steve Zahn, who deftly apply darker emotional shadings to their characters when necessary, and equally fine work from a small ensemble of solid supporting players. It may be difficult for an indie so unassumingly low-key to gain traction in the ever-more-brutally competitive theatrical marketplace. But appreciative reviews and favorable word of mouth could generate interest among homevid viewers.


Plot pivots on a serendipitous encounter between Sue (Aniston), a stressed-for-success sales rep for a company specializing in "corporate art," and Mike (Zahn), an aimless guy in his early 30s employed by his taciturn father (Fred Ward) and ailing mother (Margo Martindale) at an Arizona roadside motel where Sue providentially checks in.


Mostly out of boredom -- but perhaps partly out of pent-up need for intimacy -- Sue impulsively gives in to Mike's amusingly maladroit come-on. The lead-up to their one-night stand (or, more precisely, one-afternoon quickie) is more than a tad unsettling, given that Mike comes across early on as the most socially awkward motel employee this side of Norman Bates. And the potential for stalker-style melodrama is hardly dissipated when Mike, instantly smitten, decides to follow Sue home to Maryland.


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