Mary Tyler, Millennial Image

It’s not easy taking on a classic piece of cinema, but great rewards come to those who take the risk. Writer/director David Schrader goes big in his sci-fi thriller Office Space homage, Mary Tyler, Millennial. I appreciate the attempt, and that will always score points with me.

Mary Tyler (Mary Ryan) is a Midwestern millennial fresh off the bus to L.A. She has scored a plumb position at the mega-influencer firm DaJaVue, led by the enigmatic leader, Izabella Watson (Lucy Blehar). DaJaVue has developed a device that “does everything.” It’s untested (probably dangerous), but Mary has been hired to sell whatever this device is.

As Mary’s first week at DaJaVue progresses, she begins to uncover a nefarious conspiracy within the company’s corporate culture. She quickly learns that if she wants to advance in her career, she’ll need to be implanted with a “headship,” just like all of her co-workers. Naturally, she resists but is pressured at every turn to do it, particularly by the head of HR, Sheera (Kari Lee Cartwright).

Mary Tyler, Millenial is very much a low-budget affair, so there are a few issues with the final production quality you’d expect to see. However, lighting is probably what hurts the movie the most. The film pretty much uses the overhead fluorescent lighting of its real office location, which screams low-budget onscreen. As filmmakers, you’d be surprised how inexpensive good lighting and sound are nowadays.

“…if she wants to advance in her career, she’ll need to be implanted with a ‘headship ‘…”

Mary Tyler, Millenial is also a comedy with laugh-out-loud moments (i.e., the oriental discussion and the sign language scene). I need to this preface by saying that humor is subjective. My preferences toward specific types of humor may be different. I felt like the humor here is very jokey (i.e., one joke after the other). I believe in the idea that if you have a hundred jokes in your film, I’d rather you only keep only the ten that hit rather than include the ninety misses. Show audiences you’re funny all the time, rather than some of the time.

I wish there were a bit more discipline applied to the satire and joke writing throughout. I’ll say that many of the punchlines needed a few more creative passes to maximum full humor. One example is Mary’s roommate Shelly working on her sci-fi cat character. The joke is that she’s playing a cat in a movie, and the laugh comes from Shelly being a feline. This could have really scored by finding clever ways to incorporate the cat gag versus just having her act like a cat. I’ll say there are hundreds of comedians who’d be more than willing to help punch up jokes for movies.

Where Mary Tyler, Millenial works is its satire. It definitely finds its comedic inspiration from Mike Judge’s Office Space. Schrader keenly pokes fun at the Millenial (progressive) generation. I love that it comments on their self-important nature, the need that Millenials must appear enlightened to others while showing they know little about life. I also love how the film satirizes the notions of group-think, either believing everything the hivemind thinks, or you are worthless.

Mary Ryan plays Mary as the straight person and nails the performance. She represents us in this crazy corporate environment, and as Izabella, Lucy Blehar gives us a spot-on Elizabeth Holmes impression that will creep you out. This ongoing tension between Izabella and her assistant Constance (Brigid Marshall) is brilliant.

Mary Tyler, Millennial is a fantastic satire of the Millennial generation (says this very old man). Schrader has much to say about what if this generation was allowed to rule the world. Indie comedy is hard to pull off, but this works in the end. Though many of the jokes could have been worked over a bit, the overall film is funny and insightful.

Mary Tyler, Millennial is currently on the film festival circuit and recently screened at the Marina Del Rey Film Festival.

Mary Tyler, Millennial (2022)

Directed and Written: David Schrader

Starring: Mary Ryan, Lucy Blehar, Brigid Marshall, Kari Lee Cartwright, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Mary Tyler, Millennial Image

"…a fantastic satire of the Millennial generation..."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon