directed by Stephen Belber
(Samuel Goldwyn Co., 2008)

While her character in Management isn't one of the sweeter and more personable characters she's played, you really just can't go wrong with any Jennifer Aniston movie. Admittedly, I was a little worried about Steve Zahn's ability to hold his own alongside her, but he turned in a terrific performance. It's not easy to play a sort of dumb character in a serious, natural and completely honest manner, but Zahn does it. There are laughs aplenty to be found here, but this is no dumb comedy -- not by a long shot.

Poor Mike (Zahn) is about as smooth with the ladies as I am. When Sue Claussen (Aniston) checks in at the family-owned hotel where he works as the night manager and janitor, he is immediately smitten and uses the old "complimentary wine" ruse to try and get to know her. A couple of uncomfortable yet very funny scenes ensue, and we learn that this beautiful woman who is way out of Mike's league is something of a lonely soul herself.

That being said, Sue has no thought of ever seeing Mike again -- until he shows up at her workplace on the other side of the country a few days later. In a seemingly foolhardy and somewhat spontaneous move, Mike has spent all of his money and left his family behind just to come and see her. Sue is less than happy about this unexpected turn of events, but a part of her can't help but be touched by the puppy-dog devotion she has inspired in this strange young man. After returning home, an undeterred Mike sends her letters and poems before chasing after her once again when she moves to the state of Washington to reunite with her old boyfriend (Woody Harrelson). Mike proves himself quite willing to do anything, no matter how crazy, to see her again. Anybody else would come across as a stalker, but Mike is far too genuine and sincere in his unabashed love for this woman to be considered anything of the sort. And no matter what happens, even when all hope is seemingly lost, he still loves Sue in a most beautiful way.

The story is really all about learning to manage your own life. Even when she seemingly has all she thinks she wants and needs, it is really Sue who is screwed up the most. Mike is obviously a dreamer and an eternal optimist, while Sue tries to find happiness in going about her life in a totally pragmatic fashion. Both ultimately learn that sometimes you have to let go of everything in order to find what you have been trying to attain all along.

I loved this sweet and quirky romantic comedy. I feel sure that most people will be able to identify themselves with one of the two main characters and maybe even learn something about themselves by enjoying the comedy foibles that make up this most unconventional of romances.

review by
Daniel Jolley

12 February 2011

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