Editors' pick

Management

Management movie poster
MPAA rating: R
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Sue (Jennifer Aniston) is a traveling saleswoman who must fend off the attentions of Mike (Steve Zahn), a flaky motel manager.
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Woody Harrilson, Steve Zahn, Fred Ward
Director: Stephen Belber
Running time: 1:35
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Editorial Review

How's this for a creepy?

Traveling alone on business, an attractive single woman named Sue (Jennifer Aniston) checks into a seedy Arizona roadside motel, only to find the tongue-tied night manager, Mike, lurking outside her door with a bottle of cheap wine, "compliments of the management." "You have a nice butt," he tells her. Sue flies home to Maryland never to hear from him again.

Until he shows up on her doorstep.

Sounds like a gender-swapping remake of "Fatal Attraction." Or maybe "Psycho II."

Did I mention that Steve Zahn plays Mike?

Yeah, that Steve Zahn. The one who, in a litany of movies such as "Daddy Day Care" and "Happy, Texas," has built a career playing lovable goofballs. I'm not saying he can't do creepy, but if Zahn showed up outside your seedy motel room -- even if he were carrying a bloody chainsaw instead of a bottle of wine -- you would probably invite him in. In a way, he's more like a puppy that has followed Sue home.

And he's the single biggest reason why "Management" is a delightfully screwball romantic comedy and not a crazed-stalker film. And why it works.

Like watching a puppy chase its own tail, it's a pleasure watching Mike try to win Sue over.

But Sue gets back together with her former boyfriend, a punk-rocker-turned-yogurt-magnate (Woody Harrelson). Now there's someone who can play both cute and creepy. As the shaved-headed Jango, Harrelson dances between the bristling menace of "Natural Born Killers" and a mellow, New Age buzz. He's a lot of fun, even when shooting a BB gun at Mike.

I know, I know. Testosterone ain't pretty. Aniston, on the other hand, is. But she's an accomplished comic actress, too. If anyone can make you believe that she would let a total stranger touch her on the rump, she can.

Eventually, Mike lands on a path of self-discovery that leads to . . . well, this is, after all, Hollywood. You thought, maybe, they weren't going to get together?

"Sweet just doesn't cut it," Sue tells Mike in one of her increasingly futile attempts to make him go away. Maybe in real life it doesn't, but this is the movies.

-- Michael O'Sullivan (May 15, 2009)Contains a sex scene, obscenity and comic violence.