Memron review by Jackass Tom

Memron is a fictitious company that declared bankruptcy and left 60,000 unemployed. Subtract one letter and change another, and you of course have the true-to-life company that made big headlines for corruption at the top. Memrons former CEO Ken Clay (Michael McShane), is now in a minimum security prison where he is treated like a guest at a spa hotel by the prison guards. The prison guards themselves look like they are straight out of Reno 911. Instead of keeping the inmates in line, they field ground balls off of Clay’s 3-wood. Meanwhile, a group of Clay’s former employees are dealing with life after Memron and it isn’t so easy. ‘Facts’ scroll across the screen saying things like 1 in 10 Memron employees will find a job . After seeing the bozo’s at the find-a-new-job coaching sessions it’s amazing the odds are even that high.

Each former employee seems to have some sort of major issue. Shelly is neurotic and brings her psychiatrist to the meeting because mainly she has a problem dealing with Carl annoying, over-active friendly guy who thinks everybody loves him. Jim is in his 40s and got kicked out of his mom’s house (which he makes payments for) because he ‘quit’ his job; she doesn’t acknowledge that he got laid off. Brenda is the bubbly, extra-touchy red-head who gives B-jobs in order to try and land an A-job. All of them attend the meeting in order to gain advice on landing their next big paycheck.

After a few sessions the Carl gets up on a soap box and begins yelling and screaming about starting a business to beat a business like Memron into the ground. Oddly enough, that shouldn’t be too hard since Memron just declared BANKRUPCY!?!? His idea is to bag and sell… air. That’s right, call up the venture capitalists WE’VE GOT A GENIUS OF AN IDEA HERE! All of the idiots are on board because they are idiots without jobs and will follow an idiot idea if someone else leads them to it. Carl is just that idiot to lead them. They spend the rest of the movie running around the mountains with trash bags trying to ‘bag air’.

This movie is painful. Its awful. Truth be told, I had to stop it after 40 minutes but wanted to stop it after 20. A day later I completed it and it didn’t get much better. Why is it bad? Let me delve into that one….

First it’s done in the Christopher Guest/ This is Spinal Tap style of mockumentary, i.e. its setup to look like a documentary but everything is fictional. The Office is the most recent success story to use this style that Rob Reiner and Guest pretty much created. Mockumentaries can be very entertaining and revealing movies if done properly. If not, like the case here, they can be awfully terrible. So there are obviously differences. In a movie like Spinal Tap the band members (the protagonists, if you will) are surrounded by people who put them into perspective. Everyone in the band is pretty much clueless to the world around them and it is their clueless-ness that provides comedy, but the Rob Reiner character is there to put these characters in real world. Would the “These go to eleven!” joke be nearly as funny if Reiner weren’t there interviewing Guest and trying to convince the braindead Guest that the output would be the same if 10 was the biggest number of the amp? In Best in Show, would Fred Willard’s shtick be as funny if he weren’t sitting next to the serious Westminster veteran commentator? Even in The Office would Steve Carrell’s outrageous behavior be as funny if there weren’t 3-4 employees constantly looking at him like he was nuts? Having someone serious interacting with the comical characters is where most of the comedy is derived.

In Memron everyone is outrageous and over the top to the point where the real-life aspect of the mockumentary is thrown out the window. For example, in the opening scene, Clay is golfing in the prison yard and the two guards are there with him, shagging golf balls. The guards were intended to be funny, but failed to really generate much humor. If Clay were out there trying to play golf in front of real prison guards it might have generated humor.

Another thing lacking in this movie is subtlety. Good mockumentaries are loaded with dialogue subtleties. Characters inadvertently reveal things about themselves through their everyday conversation and interview scenarios. In Memron, the dialogue seems to reveal everything directly. It’s as if they just come out and say “THIS IS MY CHARACTER!” and hit you in the face with it. There is nothing clever about what these people say or do. The movie feels more like it was written by Adam Sandler.

And what is really the point of this film? Here you have a company obviously based on Enron where the top executives fleeced the company of every dollar and left all the workers to fend for themselves. One would think that the comedy would be in making fun of the executives who thought they could get away with what they did. The executives are portrayed as semi-criminals who get off easy, but at the same time say they feel bad for their employees. Memron also shows that they don’t understand a life where they have a lack of wealth. In that way they are more like royalty than greedy business men.

The real atrocity,however, is that the movie goes further to lampoon the people who actually got laid off because of the whole bankruptcy. Memron is representing the everyday employees who got laid off, not as helpless victims, but as completely helpless buffoons with major personal problems who were lucky to have a job in the first place. Seminars are created to help them find jobs, but it shows that whatever they did at Memron translates into having no marketable jobs skills at all. Even when they try to start a company, the idea is so bogus and outrageous that you wonder if the company declared bankruptcy out of sheer incompetence of its core employees.

What are they trying to say about the ~60,000 people that lost their jobs because of the real Enron collapse? These are the people that I would expect to want to see a movie called Memron. How are they supposed to relate to a movie that does such horrible job of representing them? I work in a rather large company, and I do realize that these companies hire LOTS of people. There are many that you look at every day and wonder “How are they still breathing let alone employed here?” So I do recognize some of these people but at the same time, where are the normal employees for reference? Where are the people that landed on their feet or were at least normal? Doe these people exist anywhere in this environment.

Memron is a failed comedy that seems like a good idea in theory but fails when executed. The film makers missed the mark on many areas that could have made the film better, and the final result is a movie few will hear about and even fewer will enjoy. If you can get through all 79 minutes in one sitting you are a better man than I.

1 out of 10 Jackasses
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