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Another Aniston film that's too easy to forget

IT'S easy to forget that Jennifer Aniston truly can act, to get caught up in her sunny looks, in the tabloid frenzy of her off-screen persona.

It's easy to lose sight of the fact that, in small, meaty films like "The Good Girl" and "Friends With Money" and even the cult comedy "Office Space," she can reveal some real substance and depth.

You want that for Aniston in "Management," too, but the script from Stephen Belber doesn't give her room to breathe or shine.

A playwright and screenwriter directing for the first time, Belber surprisingly goes heavy on the quirk in this romantic comedy and never develops a romance that feels believable.

Everything about the relationship between Aniston's Sue Claussen and Steve Zahn's Mike Cranshaw feels contrived: the way they meet, the way they first hook up, the way they fall in love.

They never make sense as a couple; then again, neither of them is terribly well fleshed-out individually.

And that's a problem when we're expected to root for them to figure out a life together, despite the baggage and geographical distance dividing them.

Likeable actor

Mike is in a state of arrested development, living and working at an Arizona motel owned by his parents.

In his late 30s, he still has a Run-DMC poster on his room wall. Zahn is an often likable actor, but even he can't get much going with a character who has so little to play with.

For some reason, though, Mike is smitten by the simple, standoffish Sue from the moment she checks in. A native of Columbia, Maryland, she's traveling through as part of her work selling generic paintings to hang on the walls of generic motels like Mike's. He finds dumb reasons to talk and awkwardly flirt with her but they never seem to click.

Sue is inexplicably closed off, though; we learn a little bit about her from the charity work she does with the homeless back in Maryland, but otherwise we never understand why she's so reluctant to fall in love.

And so not only does it seem impetuous and immature when Mike gathers all his cash and flies across the country to be with her, it makes no sense emotionally.

Woody Harrelson livens things up briefly as Sue's eccentric, once-and-future boyfriend, a punk rocker turned frozen-yogurt mogul who lives in a McMansion in Washington.

But amusing as he is, Harrelson's character makes you wonder how a dud like Sue managed to wind up with such a wild card.


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