Thursday, August 13, 2009

Get A Job

Genre: Comedy
Premise: Recent college grads are forced to lower their expectations as they enter the job market.
About: CBS Films picked up Get a Job last month. Writing duo Pennekamp and Turpel recently penned the drama “Crowley,” (Harrison Ford, Keri Russell) which is shooting right now, as well as having numerous projects in development. The two are repped at CAA.
Writers: Kyle Pennekamp and Scott Turpel.

Man, it’s been a tough week here at Scriptshadow. Four reviews and I haven’t read anything I liked. Although it’s easy to forget amongst the challenge of getting up five reviews a week, I really love reading screenplays. Every script is like a Christmas present to me. I can’t wait to open it up and see what’s inside. Getting a lot of shitty presents this week made for a pretty awful Christmas though. Luckily I had one gift left. The one all the way at the back. I wanted something that was going to make me forget every script before it. “Get A Job” seemed like just that present. A couple people already told me it was hilarious. And the premise is one of those premises you know is comedy gold. Recent college grads trying to find jobs in this economy?? That's got Hangover potential. So no more machetes. No more Twihard fans. No more Gordon Gekko or scripts to remind me that one of my heroes passed away. All I wanted was a good solid funny screenplay.

Did I get it?



What a weird screenplay “Get a Job” is. The script plays out like a documentary you might see on one of those obscure cable channels you didn’t know you had until you accidentally flipped onto it at three in the morning. As I just mentioned, we follow the lives of four recent college grads entering the big scary job world, and they quickly learn that nothing is as easy as they thought it would be. But it's not really a story. It's more like we have four subjects and we follow them into their new lives. Miles works as a “Genius” at the Apple Store. Charlie works as a 6th grade teacher in the inner city. Luke works on the trading floor. And our protagonist, Will, is supposed to have a job at a magazine company. Except on his very first day...he gets let go.

The script falls squarely into the observational category, as we witness the four endure the challenging and sometimes embarrassing world of working your first job. There’s no real centerpiece driving the story other than Will's pursuit of employment which is why the documentary comparison kept popping up in my head. Once we get settled (which takes a good 60 pages) a subplot emerges where Will and his girlfriend, Jillian, try and figure out where they want their relationship to go. See Jillian dumped Will after college because Will didn’t take life seriously enough. He's not prepared for the real world and his inability to find anyone to hire him pretty much validates Jillian's decision to move on. When Will realizes that the real world (unlike college) actually requires you to *try*, he becomes a whole nother person, not only finding a job, but quickly working his way up the ladder. It's through this dedication that Jillian allows Will back into her life, and then in the irony of all ironies, she loses her job. Everything is turned on its head as the two are now in the exact opposite positions from where they started.

There are some other things going on. Will runs a blog called “” which is his little social commentary on the world. The script occasionally drops in on Luke, Charlie, and Miles, but it feels more like a necessity than a choice, as the characters are never given that much to do (although Luke having a meltdown after losing a bunch of money at work is kinda funny). I also liked the subtle commentary on our generation being a bunch of entitled douchebags. Will feels that things should just fall into place for him when he leaves college, but of course that’s not the way it works. Looking back at my first job, I remember feeling the same way. I *deserved* to be there. I shouldn't have to feel thankful for it.

I guess I’m disappointed in “Get A Job” because it didn’t take enough advantage of its premise. I wanted to feel the pain of these characters, feel their fear. But in the end I never bought that they were in any real danger - that if they lost their jobs, anything real terrible was going to happen to them. I guess I just wanted more to *happen*. But the seminal question with every comedy is simple: Was it funny? Well…to me it wasn’t. But to be honest I think that had more to do with my sense of humor than these guys not being funny. However there is one line I loved. When Luke has gone from the top trader in the office to the lowest rung on the ladder, he dejectedly laments about his bedroom: “Now the Bone Zone will become the Alone Zone.” That gave me a good chuckle.

There’s a chance this was an early draft because the script is a whopping 125 pages and I didn’t think it needed to be a line over 105. There’s a lot of unnecessary fluff in here. Anyway, this wasn’t for me. But it was purchased and I know two other people loved it so hopefully you can find it and form your own opinion.

[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[x] barely kept my interest

[ ] worth the read

[ ] impressive

[ ] genius

What I learned: Observational comedies light on story need to be SHORT. If we have a clear, strong goal for our protagonist, the audience is going to give you some leeway. But if we're just watching people live their lives, nobody wants that to be a two hour experience.