Remember those kids in high school who, despite being given all the tools for success, refused to put forth an effort to make a decent project? Whose final products ended up being so god-awful they must have exerted effort to make them that horrible? It seems that these kids maintained their passion for awfulness, moved to Hollywood and produced “Get a Job.”
From the giveaway title to the rudimentary dialogue, there’s no question as to what this film is about. “Get a Job” details the struggles of Will (Miles Teller, “Whiplash”) as he tries to improve life for himself and his girlfriend Jillian (Anna Kendrick, “Pitch Perfect”) by seeking employment as a videographer. Will is a pathetic excuse for a human being, but his three bizarre, unsanitary and substance-abusing housemates, Charlie (Nicholas Braun, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”), Ethan (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, “Superbad”) and Luke (Brandon T. Jackson, “Triple Thunder”) make the millennial generation appear absolutely despicable. If you were looking for an older, wiser parental figure to teach these helpless clowns how to get their lives together, you won’t find one — Will’s father, Roger (Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”), becomes completely delusional on his quest for employment. The collective strangeness of characters and plot suggests that “How Not to Get a Job” would serve as a more accurate title.
Once we listen to a few of the characters’ conversations, it’s obvious why no one wants to hire any of them. Their vocabulary is limited to sexual lingo, with “dick” “fuck” and “come” being among the favorites. Then, during the last 20 minutes, there’s a dramatic tonal shift. Suddenly the film is trying to take itself seriously by having each character, in his own weird way, preach the same idea: it’s not just about feeling special, but actually being special.
While crude humor may have been the intent, the material can better be described as downright disgusting. Director Dylan Kidd starts by testing viewers’ stomachs as they are subjected to watching Luke chug a mason jar full of deer semen in order to obtain his own desk at the office. More worrisome is the scene where a young Asian boy ends up unconscious on the gym floor after Charlie lobs a basketball at him. No one, not even the surrounding parents or one of his classmates exhibits any sign of concern.
Another disappointing aspect of the film is its portrayal of women in power. Roger, the old timer in despair, basically begs the young barista, Cammy (newcomer Mimi Gianpulos) to fix him. Sure enough, a few scenes later, his once-graying hair is now solid black and Cammy’s constantly hanging onto Roger, indicating that she’s providing him with something more than caffeine and hair dye. Meanwhile, his son is being controlled by a conniving older woman, Kathleen Dunn (Marcia Gay Harden, “Into the Wild”), who openly admits that she’s only promoting Will so she can have more control over him.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a film about the 20-somethings of America if substance abuse wasn’t prevalent. While a little party never killed nobody, the presence of beer and weed is so overwhelming in this film it might as well be a painfully long advertisement. Alcohol isn’t just used to alleviate misery and heighten euphoria — it’s viewed as the key to professional success, as demonstrated by Will’s insistence on Roger getting hammered before Will records him for his video resume.
No amount of alcohol or marijuana will ever allow watching “Get a Job” to be a non-torturous experience. At least those who make the drunken mistake of pressing play can mostly forget the ordeal the next day. I wish I was so lucky.