THE LAST SHIFT has one of those messages we’ve seen many times before in movies: what are you going to do with your life before it’s too late and you waste your potential? Depending on your age, is it ever too late to change? The only reason this “one time watch” movie worked for me is because of the performances, especially Richard Jenkins, who just left a bad taste in my mouth in the overrated and awful Kajillionaire before this. A big 3rd act incident happens near the end of the movie that doesn’t quite make sense in normal human logic, but that would be my only other complaint other than the familiarity of it all. This is one of those movies, that back in the 90s/early 2000s if you found on a movie channel at one in the morning, while sober, with a midnight homemade or fast food snack in hand, you’d probably watch until it was done at three am. “That was nice but I probably wouldn’t seek out to watch it again.” That kind of feeling. IMDB’s log line summary for the film is as follows: “Stanley’s last shift at his fast food job takes an unexpected turn.” Sigh, come on IMDB, what am I going to do with you? Stanley has been working at this chicken and fish place called Oscar’s for the past 38 years and he wants to move his mother out of the home his brother and him put her in and do something more with the last remaining years of his life. So he needs to train his replacement before he goes, a mild slacker named Javon, who may or may not end up teaching Stanley and/or himself that expectations are overrated and you are just going to walk the same path eventually that you try to divert from, depending on who you are and the color of your skin.
That’s the movie in a nutshell. The film mostly takes place inside the restaurant, with a couple of late shift shenanigans and weird and asshole customers. If you want a straight up comedy in this vein just stick to Waiting… which just hit Netflix this weekend. Their conversations inside the fast food joint are about life that feel realistic and don’t get too preachy. Married With Children and Modern Family’s Ed O’Neil is a supporting player in this, providing some comic relief and also there to get away with saying the R word that you barely have heard in movies this past decade. But it’s the Richard Jenkins and Shane Paul McGhie show here, as their performances make the movie. Jenkins plays an actual a character in this, unlike he empty shell in this week’s Kajillionaire. And McGhie plays a unique slacker with a hidden heart of gold. It takes a pro to pull off that kind of character and it seemed to just come naturally to this new big screened talent. Looking up writer/director Andrew Cohn, this seems to be his first big screen venture, as his career is filled mostly with nonfiction documentary and documentary shorts. I’d say this is an about average is not a little above, fictional big screen debut for him. He seems to possess the traits of a good actor’s director…but maybe he should direct someone else’s screenplay. A minor spoiler, but one of the two gets into a bit of trouble in their job near the end of the movie, and the rational and thought of the district manager I thought was a bit bullshit and unrealistic for the kind of situation that presented itself, especially if you factor in the color of both her and Javon’s skin and Stanley’s situation. Surely the catalyst to the climax could’ve been handled better. But hey, I laughed and was entertained throughout the nice, tight and short 90 minute run time. I am also quite happy that my last new movie viewing this weekend was in a theater and wasn’t a terrible piece of shit streaming film like Kajillionaire or the Secret Society of Second Born Royals, so there’s that.