The first step to producing a great short film is an interesting idea. In Craig Trow’s The Manager Position, the interesting idea starts with a man keeping an important secret from his wife. Mundane? Believe me, it gets real interesting real fast.
Several months ago, Philip (Curtiss Cook Jr.) was let go from his job because of the recession, and he has yet to tell his wife, Liz (Karina Willis). Each morning, Liz makes her husband breakfast and sends him off to work with a note of encouragement. Where then does Philip go? He finds refuge in an abandoned office building, briefcase in hand and sadness in his heart.
One morning when Philip arrives at the “office,” a stranger named Helen (Jackie Hoffman) is at the desk in front of Philip’s office. As the two suspiciously stare at one another, Helen reminds Philip of his appointments that day. Of course, the confused Philip goes along with the charade. As the days pass, more and more “employees” show up at the office.
“He finds refuge in an abandoned office building, briefcase in hand and sadness in his heart.”
The Manager Position hits a little too close to home for me. I’ve been in that situation of being laid off because of the tanking economy, and the moment I had to tell my wife exactly what happened. It wasn’t fun. After the grief of losing one’s job, there’s the inevitable what to do next. In 2008, there were no jobs except for telemarketing insurance and shady investments.
Trow’s story hits on all the themes and emotions of the unemployed, particularly the part about finding purpose through work and the feelings of fulfillment in one’s job. As a comedy, the film successfully navigates through the device of escalation. As soon as the “office” becomes fully staffed, office politics take over to hilarious effect.
Curtiss Cook Jr. is perfect as the everyman. Through him, we become Philip and experience the formation of the ultimate scam through his eyes. He is then grounded by Jackie Hoffman’s brilliant comedic timing as Helen. The Manager Position hits the emotions and comedy perfectly for anyone who’s ever been laid off.
"…Cook Jr. is perfect as the everyman."