DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Steve Conrad
Seann William Scott, John C. Reilly, Fred Armisen, Jenna Fischer, Chris Conrad, Lili Taylor, Gil Bellows
Writing Credits:
Steve Conrad

Personality quirks and inadequacies come to the surface when two men (Seann William Scott, John C. Reilly) vie for the top job in a grocery chain's new store.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$30.493 thousand on 6 screens.
Domestic Gross
$406.252 thousand.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.35:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 86 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 9/2/2008

• Audio Commentary from Writer/Director Steven Conrad and Producers Jessica Borsiczky Goyer and Steven A. Jones
• Deleted Scenes
• “Making The Promotion” Featurette
• Promotional Webisodes
• Outtakes
• Trailer
• Sneak Peeks


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Promotion (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 28, 2008)

Over the last decade or so, John C. Reilly has become a great “go-to” guy for comedic support. He helped make potential duds like Talladega Nights into amusing affairs, and he even snagged an Oscar nomination for Chicago. His presence lured me into 2008’s workplace comedy The Promotion.

Doug Stauber (Seann William Scott) works as a long-time assistant manager at Donaldson’s Grocery. He does his best and hopes for a promotion when the chain opens a new store. However, a complication arises when fellow assistant manager Richard Wehlner (Reilly) comes down from Canada and starts at Doug’s location. This creates competition for the head spot at the soon-to-open store – very unwelcome competition since Doug thinks he’s a “shoo-in” for the job. The movie follows their battle.

After I saw summer 2008’s Step Brothers, I started to think Reilly could read the phone book and make it funny. The man created belly laughs from a fart joke, for God’s sake! After sitting through The Promotion, however, I can see that Reilly’s talents only go so far. As good as the man can be, he can’t do anything with this consistently dull film.

Indeed, Promotion wastes the talents of a lot of good actors. In addition to Reilly, the movie misuses Jenna Fischer and Lili Taylor. Both have little to do, and Taylor really gets lost in the shuffle. The film also throws out a cameo from Jason Bateman that goes nowhere and simply fails to take advantage of its strengths.

Some of the problems stem from Scott’s performance. He seems so desperate to escape the shadow of Stifler that he runs too far in the other direction. In films like this and the equally lame Mr. Woodcock, Scott plays flaccid, milquetoast characters who feel like anti-Stiflers. I understand his desire to avoid typecasting, but he just can’t pull off these buttoned-down personalities. Scott doesn’t do comedic misery well. He’s much better as a loud, abrasive character ala Stifler, so his work here as Doug robs the film of some comic potential.

Not that I think a great performance from Scott would have done much, as even Reilly seems wooden and remote. Most of the blame for the movie’s mediocrity falls on the doorstep of writer/director Steven Conrad. He creates a tremendously inconsistent film that never finds its own groove. Promotion can’t decide if it wants to focus on the black comedy of the rivalry between Doug and Richard, the more dramatic personal lives of the two men, or the Office Space-style antics of the grocery employees.

This leaves it as a massive mess without a sense of tonal consistency. A better film could possibly pull off the shifts, but this one can’t. Instead, it flops about like a fish on a pier as it struggles to figure out what it wants to be.

The Promotion never does establish itself in that manner, so we end up with a rambling and dull movie. Even at a mere 86 minutes, it feels padded, and it fails to achieve any sense of satisfaction as a comedy or a drama. Some potential comedy could’ve occurred here, but the flick feels like a work in progress that no one ever quite finished.

The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio C+/ Bonus B-

The Promotion appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The film came with a mediocre transfer.

Sharpness was decent but erratic. Some noticeable edge enhancement creates moderate softness at times, as the haloes in wide shots made things a bit murky. Most of the time the movie offered good delineation, but too many edge exceptions occurred. I noticed no jaggies or shimmering, and source flaws remained infrequent. I saw a couple of small specks but nothing more.

Colors tended to look bland. The movie featured a fairly natural palette, but the colors remained somewhat dull at times. Blacks were reasonably dark and tight, while shadows were a little thick. Low-light shots showed acceptable delineation but could seem slightly dense. Overall, this was a drab presentation.

Not much came from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Promotion. Most of the movie focused on general ambience. The front and rears speakers added a decent sense of place, and a few louder elements like jets occasionally added a little zest to the proceedings. Music also boasted nice stereo delineation. However, the film’s cope remained limited, so we didn’t get much to make the mix stand out from the crowd.

Audio quality appeared fine. Speech showed good delineation and clarity, as the lines remained natural. Effects didn’t have much to do, but they offered acceptable accuracy and life. Music worked best, as the score and songs seemed dynamic and full. Nothing here turned this into a great mix, but it deserved a “C+”.

When we move to the extras, we find an audio commentary from writer/director Steven Conrad and producers Jessica Borsiczky Goyer and Steven A. Jones. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. They discuss story and character issues, inspirations and influences, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, costume, prop and production design, and a mix of connected subjects.

Though I didn’t think much of the movie itself, I really enjoyed this commentary. It offers a lot of insight into the film and the choices made, and it throws out a number of entertaining stories along the way. We learn plenty about the flick and enjoy ourselves as well.

Six Deleted Scenes fill a total of seven minutes, 41 seconds. These include “Customer Complaint and Courtesy Patrol” (1:43), “Monster Face” (1:14), “Do Good” (0:45), “Rainbow World” (0:55), “Richard Tells Lori He Got High” (1:02) and “Car Ride” (2:02). A little more character exposition appears in a few of these, and that’s about it. There’s not much to most of them, and one – “High” – would’ve been a bad choice to include; the scene of Lori’s departure works better when we don’t see Richard’s confession.

Making The Promotion goes for 18 minutes, 35 seconds, and provides remarks from Conrad, Goyer, and actors John C. Reilly, Gil Bellows, Seann William Scott, Jenna Fischer, Lili Taylor, Bobby Cannavale, and Fred Armisen. We hear about the story’s origins, the script and characters, Conrad’s work on the set, cast and performances, and some scene specifics.

Don’t expect much from the bland featurette. It throws out some minor notes but usually sticks with fluffy promotional talk. I think you can skip the featurette and miss little, especially since the most interesting notes already appear in the commentary.

Next we find five Promotional Webisodes. In these behind the scenes clips, we locate “The Accent” (3:58), “This Could Be Your Daughter” (0:49), “Chicago Press Day” (1:40), “Seann Gets Lost” (1:05) and “Richard Wehlner Montage” (1:07). Most offer staged moments of wackiness to create interest in the movie, while “Daughter” features outtakes and “Montage” simply collects clips of Reilly. None of these are particularly interesting.

In addition to the movie’s trailer, we come across three minutes, 10 seconds of Outtakes. Unlike most gag reels, this one concentrates on attempts to shoot the hospital scene about cleft palates. I like the fact it focuses on one sequence, but the material remains the usual goofs and giggles.

A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for Hole in the Wall Camps, Superhero Movie, The Ex, Where In the World Is Osama Bin Laden? and The Hammer.

Given my affection for many of its cast members, I expected decent things from The Promotion. Unfortunately, it fails to live up to my hopes, as it creates a bland, forgettable tale that goes nowhere. The DVD presents average picture and audio as well as a collection of extras highlighted by a very good audio commentary. I hoped Promotion would amuse, but instead it left me cold.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main