by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

If you see that a film's cast is toplined by Steve Zahn and Jennifer Aniston, you're going to assume it is a comedy of some kind, possibly a zany one, but Management is neither zany nor especially funny. It is a straightforward romantic drama about two people who dance the courtship dance awkwardly and hesitantly.

Zahn plays a lonely guy who is working and living in his parents' mop-n-pop motel in Arizona. He seems to be a nobody headed nowhere. He's handsome enough and there's nothing wrong with his brain, but he's in a place which is not unpleasant and from which he is not ambitious enough to escape. He's not lazy or incompetent, but he has no special dreams, and doesn't really have any strong desire to do something specific, so he's treading water, as we all do occasionally.

Aniston plays a corporate shill. She travels around the country selling crappy mass-produced art to hotels, motels, and medical offices, and she realizes this is trivial work, but she's dedicated to her job and seems to do it well. She also seems to have a great heart, because she's really committed to helping the homeless during her time off. Yet there is something about her that is distant, wary and possibly very lonely. She isn't willing to let anyone get close.

Until Zahn comes along.

When Aniston wanders into the Arizona motel, Zahn is immediately interested and comes up with the most obvious come-on possible. (The ol' "free bottle of wine delivered to your room in the evening" trick.) Aniston can see that it is a come-on and tries to usher him away, but within a minute or so she can see that he is as sweet and harmless as a lost puppy, so she softens and drops her guard just a little . We can appreciate her reaction because we can see in Zahn the same likeable, harmless, guileless qualities she can see. She also appreciates the fact that when she asks him to leave, he moves on without a protest.

She's there for a two-night stand. Zahn is back the second evening with a bottle of champagne and this time Aniston invites him to have a sip and talk a bit. She realizes that he can be trusted and that he likes her butt, so she volunteers to fulfill his fantasy. She invites him to touch her butt, on the condition that he leave immediately afterward. She is confident that he will actually hold up his end of the deal. He thinks the deal sounds pretty good, so he touches her bottom respectfully, and leaves when he's asked to.

The next day Aniston checks out and talks to him for a while. He asks for her phone number and she says no. He's confused by her mood swings, but he shrugs the rejection off and gets back to work. She sits in her car for a while, ponders the situation, comes back and seduces him in the laundry room. Then she leaves - without ever leaving that phone number. Zahn is understandably befuddled by her strange mixture of green lights and red, but he eventually decides to "go for it," and seeks her out at her corporate HQ in Maryland. She continues to run hot-and-cold on him, scolding him and encouraging him in turn. She lets him stay a day, then sends him back to Arizona and refuses to answer any of his phone calls or letters.

 And all of that is only the set-up! At that point the real film has yet to begin.

Zahn and Aniston play their roles with complete conviction and credibility, and this film has so many positive elements that I wanted to like it wholeheartedly. And I did for a while, and was completely engrossed in the characters and situations through all the developments described above. Unfortunately, the script ran into some real problems in the middle act. Aniston ended up moving to Washington state and getting married to her ex-boyfriend, a former punk rocker turned corporate magnate, as played by Woody Harrelson. Harrelson's character has no place at all in the movie. The elements that made the first act work so well were simplicity and credibility. Zahn's and Aniston's characters were complicated and genuine, and their actions were consistently believable. Harrelson, on the other hand, turned in a bizarre, creepy and over-the-top turn which seemed to be from another movie, presumably the wacky surreal comedy he probably expected to be in when he signed up for a film starring Steve Zahn.

The script also gave Zahn a bromance sub-plot with a character much like himself in Washington state, a guy too smart to be working and living in his parent's mom-'n'-pop restaurant. The friend was a good character, a funny and likeable stoner, and he played an important role in the film's exposition because Zahn needed to look into a mirror. Unfortunately, the script completely abandons the friend when his expository role has been fulfilled and Zahn has moved back to Arizona. This is frustrating because it happens just as we are beginning to like the friend and the comic relief he provides, and to feel that the bromance is one of the best things in the film. The shift of locales occurs without explanation. Zahn simply finds himself back in Arizona, busying himself at his parents' motel. That development makes sense for Zahn's character, who finally decides to move on from the hopeless task of stalking a woman married to a billionaire, but the abrupt transition destroys the friendship sub-plot. We see no farewell between the two friends, and there is no further communication  between them. The friend is simply dropped from the plot, with no explanation. The author owed us some kind of closure, however brief, on that relationship.

So it's not a perfect film, or a very commercial one, or even one that lives up to its promising first act, but it is an honest and mostly genuine film. As I see it, that counts for a lot in a phony world.

Blu-Ray DVD


3 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)
2 James Berardinelli (of 4 stars)
46 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
50 (of 100)






6.4 IMDB summary (of 10)







Box Office Mojo. It grossed about a million dollars in a maximum of 212 theaters.







There's absolutely no nudity, but an awkward scene between Zahn and Aniston is quite memorable  and touching, albeit in an odd way. Zahn touches Aniston's butt, with her encouragement. It's such a nice scene that if Aniston had been courageous enough to pull her pants down, it would have entered into the pantheon of screen nudity classics, ala Phoebe Cates in Ridgemont High.






Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It is not very funny, but is an interesting and sometimes poignant story about mismatched lovers.