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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > The Promotion (2008/Genius DVD)

The Promotion (2008/Genius DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Film: C+



I have never been a fan of the films of Seann William Scott, an actor who has some talent, but has managed to get by on package deals, easy contracts and some surprisingly bad duds, you wonder if he could break out like a Heath Ledger or be stuck in bad production hell.  You have to wonder if even he is tired of some of the garbage he’s made.  When I heard he would be in a comedy from the writer of the underrated Pursuit Of Happyness, I wondered if there was hope.  Steven Conrad’s The Promotion (2008) was even directed by the writer and with the formidable John C. Reilly on board, you could actually have a film that worked!


Scott plays a mild-mannered, somewhat unhappy assistant manager at a chain supermarket retailer that is stuck between a goofy boss and those under him who have little respect for him.  Hanging in there, he has a great girlfriend he would like to marry and both are interested in moving out of their apartment with thin walls and into a house for some more peace and privacy.  Suddenly, he sees that his store is going to open a new location and as far as pecking order is concerned, he should be the instant top pick to run the place, which would mean a big enough boost in income that would make the difference and finally give him a new life.


In the past, he was a gymnast and it seems as if his life peaked there.  He is a good guy and feels better things are overdue, especially for all the work he has done and bad things he has tolerated.  Then comes the curveball when the company gets a transfer worker (Reilly) from their Canadian division (whose stores even have a different name) trying to rebuild his life after addiction troubles and with the help of his wife (Lili Taylor in a hysterical supporting performance) moves down there and wants the same job.


Both are good guys with a few character flaws and both could use a new start, yet only one can get the job.  This is where the humor comes from and one of the reasons it works on a deeper level is that it is based in reality and the constant idea of loss.  The situation also brings out the worst in both, though they still retain an ironic innocence throughout.  A breakthrough for Scott, Reilly proving once again how good he is in down & out roles and Conrad’s impressive directing make this a pleasant surprise.


However, it is the abrupt ending that hurts what was shaping up as an indie classic.  Especially since it was smart enough to get as far as it did, so much is left hanging in the end that I wish I still owned my old Styrofoam TV brick.  All that intelligence build-up and humor, including making the voiceover by Scott’s character work so well that it is a shame the makers missed the final icing on the cake.  Still, The Promotion is definitely worth a good look and serious filmmakers in particular should mark it down as a must-see.



The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image has some good shots here and there, but is too soft in too many shots and that is unfortunate, because Lawrence Sher’s work here is not half bad.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is livelier and better than expected, with good dialogue recording, ambiance and balanced use of music (with a score by Alex Worman with supervisor assist by Tracy McKnight that meshes well).  Extras include promotional webisodes, deleted scenes, outtakes, trailer, making of featurette and feature length audio commentary with Conrad and producers Jessika Borsiczky Goyer & Steven A. Jones.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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