My wife and I have close to 500 selections on our Netflix list, which we recently discovered is the limit. It’s not that we’re movie buffs so much as we like to keep track of things. So when one of us discovers something, it goes on the list. What belongs to whom is pretty obvious. All the [yawn] old, foreign and obscure movies are hers. All the cartoons, documentaries and interesting movies are mine. The lucky few get bumped to pole position when something else is returned. The rest languish on the list… sometimes for years. More than a few are charter members.
The blurb (along with my illustrious employment history) made me want to watch the movie, as any decent blurb should. It also overreaches a tad; marketing really is just an exaggeration that no one can do anything about. The movie is funny and touching in places, but it’s not Roger and Me, a biting commentary on unemployment and its individual and societal ramifications or a cathartic sob-fest. It’s a pretty light affair, as much of the pain that comes with losing a job is laced with or buried under humor.
That leads to a key point of the movie… laughing can ease the pain and provide a little perspective. There’s humor in any job loss if you look hard enough. (Trust me, I do this for a living.) And as time passes, this traumatizing experience often dissolves into a joke or story. The importance fades as life moves along. Each of my four layoffs now amounts to a bunch of anecdotes I tell at parties, after I raid the dessert table but before I put on the lampshade.
The main point is that anybody who loses a job isn’t alone in the experience. Many, many people have been through it and go on to do other things. And this comes across by simple repetition, as famous and regular people tell their stories. The movie stumbles in places, but it’s worth watching for the laughs and the welcome reminder that things can get better. Job loss is a reality of the current job market and will remain so going forward. Dealing with it with humor or in other ways allows people to move past it.