Actress/comedienne Annabelle Gurwitch has made a nice little career for herself from being fired. Unceremoniously dumped from a Woody Allen play for appearing to be "retarded," Gurwitch has channeled this negative experience into new creative processes. "Fired!" is a semi-documentary that is the culmination of this event--a chance for her to expand upon this one incident and to reveal universal truths behind the repercussions of being abandoned by your job. In this wildly uneven film, Gurwitch does manage to amuse with stories from the entertainment community. However, when trying to relate to the real world, the results are decidedly mixed.
First, the good. Gurwitch is an appealing personality and an engaging host. Even in forced situations, she's a likable presence. Gurwitch has many friends in the entertainment community (mostly comedic actors) and their stories provide genuine amusement. She even put together a stage show where her friends shared their experiences with a live audience. It looks like great fun, and if Gurwitch had stayed focused on these elements--"Fired!" might have been a rousing success.
Now, the not-so-good. "Fired!" doesn't really know what it wants to be. There are quite a few comedy bits inserted into the film that undermine the documentary feel. From the staged recreation of Woody Allen letting her go, to David Cross' phony advice which leads to a self indulgent skit, to a bizarrely unnecessary romp with Andy Dick serving food--Gurwitch wants to appeal to everyone. That's fine, I suppose--but the tone of the piece shifts all over the place. From Dick's outrageousness in a contrived setup to the plight of the autoworkers facing mass layoffs--that is a huge leap. In the serious bits, Gurwitch does well interviewing professionals about the psychological implications of being let go. One on one, she's fine. But other times, she inserts herself into real situations that seem inappropriate. Attending class to help individuals transition into new professions, her Woody Allen story seems trite compared to people who might be having actual problems.
Overall, "Fired!" is pleasant enough. If Gurwitch had limited her scope to the entertainment industry, she might have crafted an uproarious and fun film. But by venturing into the real world, the film falters. It's still watchable--it just isn't as enlightening as it seems to think it is. KGHarris, 04/07.