by Corey Hall
If her film career were scrutinized with the same intensity applied to her personal life, Jennifer Aniston would never get to make intriguing little oddball indies such as this. While safe doing nothing but Marley and Me-style fluff, Aniston seeks out interesting, quirky scripts, even if the results are pleasantly minor and borderline sinister. With slightly creepy undertones, Management is almost a deconstructionist rom-com, corrupting the usual flirtation-rejection template by adding an actual stalker, albeit the cuddliest stalker you'll ever see.
Aniston is Sue, a bored corporate art dealer who, on a business-trip whim, has a fling with the calmly pathetic Mike (Steve Zahn), the night manager of his parents' nowhere Arizona motel. She goes on with her life, but he sees stars — she's tonic to his funk — and begins to follow her cross-country multiple times, hounding her at each turn. Eventually the pursuit gets zanier, involving impromptu serenades, skydiving, a high-powered BB gun and a gratuitous Woody Harrelson attack.
As slapstick farce overwhelms sincere observation, the film loses some of its quiet charm, but the stars' chemistry never disappoints. Aniston's great as the slowly melting ice queen and the chronically overlooked Zahn is again terrific — with his goofy puppy-dog grin and needy sweetness, he makes a winning loser. Also, stalwart Fred Ward is aces as Mike's emotionally shut-down dad. Good stuff. The performances hold attention even as the storyline wanders, eventually drifting into weirdness.
Opens Friday, June 12, at the Main Art Theatre, 118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.