There are some nice, small moments to be found here. And David Koechner turns in a great supporting performance. But none of it adds up to much. This feels like half a movie in search of a defining point. Pleasant, but not awe-inspiring.
Koechner is great as an ousted teacher in search of Bigfoot. It's a dramatic bright spot from the funny man that certainly proves he has a long and illustrious career ahead as a character actor. The film is never predictable. It zigs and zags in comfortable contrast to what is being set up in the narrative.
This is f*cking gloomy. There isn't much energy being injected into this so-called comedy. It drifts in a discombobulated haze, shrugging along as if to say, "Whatever." The whole enterprise rests on the wimpy shoulders of its melancholy lead Luke Wilson. It only livens up when Koechner comes on screen. Luckily, he's around quite a bit.
Luke Wilson stars as Professor Charlie Thurber, a man in search of Tenure at his Liberal Arts college. He slumps along in scene after scene, bringing a sad face to what should be an uproarious look at campus life as a teacher. Unable to get published, yet determined to lock down a life-long job, the man goes out of his way to sabotage the professor being awarded his sought after position. It's not so much funny as it is depressing. There are some nice unexpected moments. The film never travels the well beaten path, instead exploring the unusual. When you think Tenure is going to go one way, it careens helplessly into a ditch of ostentatious behavior. Gretchen Mol plays the newcomer who's ousted Thurber from his post. After establishing a tumultuous relationship that sees Charlie's best friend (Koechner) trying to sabotage her at every turn, the two drifting souls happen into an understanding that could develop into a friendship somewhere down the line. Writer/director Mike Million has a quirky sensibility that works in generating subtle laughs from the realism he pacts into his script. Wilson, as the lead, just doesn't seem very into the material. He looks bored, which doesn't bode well for our overall enjoyment. The film is unlike anything seen in the last year, but it's also rather flat. It needs a quick push of excitement to come along and lift it from this Dullsville ditch. At just 89 minutes, it begins to feel a little bloated and directionless. But Koechner definitely makes it worth checking out. I say rent it for him, if anything.
There are three deleted scenes. "First Official Meeting of the Erotic Poetry Club" is an extended moment that has Thurber establishing an alternate poetry club to get back at Mol's Elaine Grasso for becoming the head of the college's actual poetry club. "Charlie Picks Up William for Dinner" has Thurber picking up his dad (Bob Gunton), whom everyone suspects has Alzheimer's. And "Jay and Margaret Search for Bigfoot" finds Koechner and a potential girlfriend discovering the real Sasquatch in the woods. Which distracts from the realistic tone the rest of the film tries to capture. These are all very short, and add nothing to the experience of the film itself. We also get a series of Outtakes, which is basically David Koechner messing around and acting a fool. It's pretty much the best part about the DVD.
The film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. In color. The film runs one hour and twenty-nine minutes. It has been rated R for language, some sexuality, and drug content. Nothing too offense. It's an okay watch for teenagers.
The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 English. There are no subtitles.
Gretchen Mol seems to have spotted something crawling around in Luke Wilson's hair. Luke seems rather sad to be front and center here, but Koechner appears to be having a good time. His "Big Foot Lives" button lets me know he's the goofy comic relief, though he plays it pretty straight in the actual film itself. The green chalkboard that serves as the backdrop reminds me of school. Which makes me want to leave this one on the shelf. The back of the keep case has a forlorn Koechner carrying a package of toilet paper. Which indicates that he might be getting into some shenanigans. I'll watch this for him. He's the only thing about this DVD art that grabs my interests.
THE FINAL WORD
Tenure is a very loose, rambling shambles of a film. Koechner is on point, and he serves as the saving grace of this picture. There's not much here to keep you interested. But it has its moments. Mediocre at best. A rental, for sure. Not something you're going to want to own.
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