Management is a very interesting movie for several reasons: one, it starts very oddly and feels awkward the way the characters behave; secondly, it doesn’t end up being about what I though it would be about, Management; thirdly, there is a message that is unexpected by the way the movie starts and fourthly it ends better than it starts, which is a good thing. Allow me to explain these ideas. The movie starts with meeting the family that runs a motel on old Route 66 in Arizona. The son of the couple that owns the Hotel, Mike (Steve Zahn), lives at the Hotel and works pretty much 24/7. In walks Sue (Jennifer Aniston) and she is livid there isn’t a recycling program at the hotel. There is some contact that Sue and Steve have prior to this conversation and he doesn’t want his parents to know that he went to her room with a bottle of wine the night before. Sue plays it cool and Mike is relieved. This whole first part is very awkward but don’t let that ruin the movie for you. There are some reasons this is shown that way which will be revealed by the characters as you get to know them and that is revealed as they get to know each other.
The title is a kind of paradigm shift from what one would think about the word management. Normally people think about management as a noun describing a person who “manages others” in a work environment. Authority is what is implied by the title, and that is a key to understanding the “paradigm shift” in this movie. I will only say, think about WHAT is being managed in this movie. It lends to a more appreciative introspection for the message the writer was trying to create in my opinion. Understanding this is key to understanding the premise of the movie which is to communicate an idea about how people should live their lives. I really liked the fact that the writer director Stephen Belber used music with very specific words to convey the idea of the movie even before it was revealed completely by the context. I would encourage you to look up the lyrics of two songs as they are playing or after the movie is over: "Adventures in Solitude" Written by A.C. Newman, Performed by The New Pornographers (IMDB) and "What I'm Looking For," Written and Performed by Brendan Benson. Essentially the movie starts out making me think it’s about Mike’s relationship with his family, managing the hotel and the struggles of that, but nope; it’s not about that at all. It’s really about the relationship between Sue and Mike, but even more than that, the relationship they have with themselves. Yeah, I know; deep, right?
Without giving the point to the movie away the message is simple yet profound in my opinion. Each of the characters has to come to terms with the way they are living their life, what they find important and what they should invest more energy into, but the script doesn’t talk about why they ended up that way. I like that because it really doesn’t matter if they figure out how the got screwed up because the love they have for each other is what makes changing all the worth while. Changing for yourself is what makes life worth living, and changing for someone else makes life more enjoyable. Sometimes people live for themselves or for others but never both at the same time and that’s the very lesson these two have to learn. Well there I go, I said it. Its okay though, the way it’s revealed in the movie is much more entertaining and important.