Shout Factory presents
"The funny thing about being fired is, later...it can be really funny."- Annabelle Gurwitch
Stars: Annabelle Gurwitch, Jeff Garlin, Andy Dick, Judy Gold, Anne Meara
Other Stars: Stephen Adly Guirgis, Tim Allen, Andy Borowitz, W. Bruce Cameron, David Cross, Bob Odenkirk, Ben Stein, Fred Willard, Sarah Silverman
Director: Chris Bradley, Kyle LaBrache
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult language)
Run Time: 01h:11m:00s
Release Date: 2007-06-05
DVD ReviewYou've been fired. Well, maybe not today, but statistically it's pretty likely. You probably weren't fired from anything as prestigious as a Woody Allen play, but someone's shown you the door. You may have been downsized, outsourced, dismissed, laid off, let go, or simply canned, but sister, we've all been there. Actress Annabelle Gurwitch had this experience after being hired to appear in a Woody Allen play. Not only did she get the boot, but among the given reasons was the plain fact that she looked "retarded" on stage. While I've never been fired by someone nearly as important as Woody Allen, I've never been called retarded on the way out the door, which feels like a bit of consolation.
Becoming fascinated with the whole sh*t-canning process, and the industry that's sprung up around it, Annabelle sets off with her camera to document the experiences of some of her famous and less-famous friends. Jeff Garlin describes finding his things packed and set outside while he was in the middle of a performance. Sarah Silverman got a fax telling her not to bother to show up to SNL. Andy Dick takes a second stab at a job in the food-service industry (though it's easy to see why the boss might have threatened to knock his block off). She also talks to outplacement specialists, talent managers, and others in one of America's largest growth industries: keeping you from getting fired and helping you get a new job when, inevitably, you get fired anyway. If it's not all quite clear, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and Ben Stein stop by with some simple lessons in the economics of firing. One of the creepiest moments comes courtesy of former human resources director Bruce Cameron, who describes his job as head of the "Department of Dark Arts." On his role: "They would come and tell us their problems, intimate thoughts, and then we would turn around and immediately inform management." It's a reminder that there are no buddies in the modern American corporate climate. It's everybody for themselves.
Her point is pretty darn universal, and she tackles it with humor and compassion. Nevertheless, this isn't quite a paean to common working folk. While we can all relate to being fired, I'm not sure how much of that translates to things like Annabelle's Broadway let-down, or to Fred Willard's pilot going to series without him. There are a few office workers and blue-collar joes that show up, but ultimately it's just not that kind of movie... and that's OK. That would be a much darker film, and Annabelle's chosen to keep things light and fleet, to laugh instead of crying. "Comedy equals tragedy plus time," she reminds us, echoing the old saw, and the assortment of comedians (largely) and entertainers are well-equipped to mine comedy from one of the most stressful experiences of modern life.
She's done a bit of a service here. The modern job market is increasingly unstable, and almost no one will keep the same job throughout their working life. Hell, even two or three jobs would be impressive. In spite of this shared experience, nobody wants to talk about it. We just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best, but Fired! is a small reminder that we're all in the same boat, and that, no matter how cruddy and unfair, someday we'll find something to laugh about.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The picture quality is rather poor in places, though I can't say that it really hurt my enjoyment of the film. The documentary was shot entirely on video, and the picture quality is inconsistent, looking very soft during certain segments and sharp in others.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The film comes with a simple but perfectly adequate Dolby 2.0 track. The dialogue was always clear and intelligible, which is all I really ask in a chatty film such as this.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
23 Deleted Scenes
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Review: The disc includes Outtakes! More Stories of the Canned, Cancelled, Downsized and Dismissed, a series of 23 deleted scenes. Well worth watching if you've enjoyed the main feature, they're all more-or-less standalone riffs from many of the celebrities who appear in the feature.
Extras Grade: B
Final CommentsWe've all been there, even actors, comedians, and Secretaries of Labor. Very few of us haven't gotten the boot at one time or another, and it's not getting any better. Annabelle Gurwitch takes a funny look at a serious subject, and in the process reminds us all that if we have nothing else in common, we've all been woefully inadequate for some job or other. We're all disposable now, but at least we can have a good laugh about it—or a few drinks. Whatever works.
Ross Johnson 2007-08-17