Comedy is hard. Getting demoted is even harder. Making a comedic film about getting demoted? Well, that's diamond territory. Dan Callahan has written a screenplay about just that.
"Demoted" stars Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings) and Michael Vartan (Alias, Hawthorne) as Mike and Rodney; two merry pranksters employed as tire salesmen who are the company's top producers and lead bullies. David Cross (Mr Show; Arrested Development) stars as their hapless victim and annoying coworker, Ken Castro. Ken just wants to be part of the cool gang; always looking for that group of fist-bumping bros. When a post-softball game celebration at a strip club goes awry and Mike and Rodney's boss (played by an always welcome Robert Klein) winds up dead, Ken becomes their boss and quickly demotes them to the secretarial pool. Once there, they are taken under-wing by Jane (Celia Weston from TV's Alice) who appoints them new bosses: Mike's is a woman and Rodney's is a good-old boy (a hysterical Ron White) who smokes and drinks and prefers a female secretary. They soon learn that being a secretary is not an easy job and are ostracized from eating lunch at their old table or even with their new female coworkers.
With Ken as their now power-hungry boss, Mike and Rodney are no longer allowed access to the swanky corporate break room or even to park their cars next to the building. They now have to fetch donuts and coffee for everyone in the office and present paperwork and reports in a timely manner. They eventually take matters into their own hands by befriending the secretaries and getting revenge on Ken in one very funny and gross bathroom scene.
Now that Mike and Rodney have made nice with the secretaries, they stage a walkout and demand to be unionized by taking their voices to the streets and to local television. Ken decides to give in to their demands mainly to save face, and his job. But with Jane's help, Mike and Rodney deliver a great proposal to a top client that Ken failed to nab, and thus starts Ken's downfall and the saving of Mike and Rodney's jobs and eventual promotion.
Screenwriter Dan Callahan and director J.B. Rogers (American Pie 2) have presented a film that is timely and certainly relevant. As more people have recently lost their jobs or have been similarly demoted, just about anyone can sympathize with Mike and Rodney and the secretaries as they are looked down upon by the sleazy corporate giants. It's always a guilty pleasure to see the overlords get their come-uppance and this film delivers.
"Demoted" is a humorous movie with a great and talented cast. The dialogue is standard and the direction is never really obvious. Equal parts "9 to 5, "Office Space," and even "Norma Rae,""Demoted" is all about being careful who you step on during a trip up the corporate ladder and opening your eyes to new experiences. I wouldn't recommend this for a laugh-out-loud riot, but it's definitely not a bad way to spend a lazy afternoon off from work.
3 Remotes out of 5.
2011 Rated R 94 minutes