Whenever male guests appear on trash talk shows, the first thing the audience members and host wants to know is, “What kind of job do you have?” Nobody asks anything about personal happiness, and God forbid the job (if the guy has one) is of the retail or service variety. Face it, folks, that just ain’t gonna cut the cake. Enter “A Real Job.”
John St. Clair (Paul Kolsby) is a clerk at Videoland and has been for twenty years. He likes his job. He’s happy with it. It provides him with what he needs. When he meets Denise (Sharon Repass), however, his life becomes a bit more complicated. He likes her, she likes him, and they are the standard couple. She doesn’t like bringing him around her friends, though. You see, being a video store clerk for half one’s life doesn’t qualify as a “serious” job. (“But who will rent us Cast Away ?”)
John, realizing he’ll lose his girl if he doesn’t make a career change, takes a job at a large corporation and soon finds himself in the position of putting Videoland out of business. Oh yeah, his love life is going down the crapper, too, as work is taking up more and more of his time. Ahh, the irony of it all. Give up what makes you happy and face a life of misery in order to make others happy, though they’ll eventually join you in misery, too, or continue to stay happy and risk scorn. The world is funny that way.
“A Real Job” is a romance with a hint of comedy that actually manages to be far more depressing than the producers probably ever expected, as the film touches on so many of the finer points of the relationship/personal happiness/societal qualifications for success blueprint. It actually works as a subversive bit of anti-capitalism propaganda (something the world needs more of), too. If that’s what the film had set out to do, though, it would’ve been a critical success. Instead, it tries to be a romantic comedy that just acts like a depressant, albeit a well-written, well-acted depressant.
Sit down and watch this with a few dotcom folks and ousted CEOs. See how they react. Maybe their lives will take on new meaning … or maybe they’ll just jump out a window instead. Either way, you’ll be doing them a favor.
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