Austin Film Festival Review: MISS NOBODY
I can’t imagine that many people grow up with the desire to be a cog in the wheel of a corporation. When asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” most children are ambitious - a doctor, a lawyer, a veterinarian, an architect. It is seldom, if ever, that you hear the likely outcome. There’s no shame in a less-esteemed position. After all, if everyone grew up to be lawyers, who would collect our garbage, fix our plumbing, or install our cable? The real heroes, if you ask me.
In the corporate world, executive is the title synonymous with power. This is the world in which Sarah Jane McKinney (Leslie Bibb) finds herself in MISS NOBODY. Socially awkward and a bit on the mousy side, Sarah Jane is lacking in career ambition and, in most cases, chooses to put her future in the hands of fate. At the start, it isn’t clear that Sarah Jane desires anything more out of life than meeting her dream dude and living happily ever after, as they say. After all, divine intervention has carried her through thus far. When there was a problem with her alcoholic father, St. George, the dragon slayer, took care of him - by way of his likeness dislodging itself from the hallows of the cathedral and crushing the poor man’s…shall we say spirit?
It is when Sarah Jane’s best friend and co-worker Charmaine (Missi Pyle) turns her on to the Junior Executive position available with their company, Judge Pharmaceuticals, that Sarah Jane’s ambitious side rears its ugly head. But how do you get ahead in business when you’ve spent the better part of your career in the secretarial pool? You lie, cheat, and steal, that’s how. And well, it’s a slippery slope from there.
It’s starts with her falsifying her educational background and quickly escalates to murder. By some fluke and a less than on top of it HR Department, Sarah Jane lands the job as a Junior Executive. But on her first day, due to some corporate restructuring, she finds that her position has been given to Milo Beeber (Brandon Routh) and she has been reassigned to be his Administrative Assistant. In a movethat would surely disappoint WORKING GIRL’s Tess McGill, Sarah Jane decides, with the help of her pal Charmaine, that she will work her “assets” to seduce her new boss and become his future wife. Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, marry ‘em.
As things seldom go as planned, Sarah Jane’s attempt at seduction ends in Milo’s somewhat accidental death. The details of the accident seem highly unbelievable and one doesn’t have time or motivation to mourn the loss as Sarah Jane is quickly ushered in to the world of Junior Executive and the other executives of Judge Pharmaceuticals begin to drop like files. Sarah Jane has tasted blood, and it tastes a lot like success.
See, the executives of Judge Pharmaceuticals are despicable people. As the body count doubles and triples and so on and so forth, there is nothing more to appreciate than the clever ways in which they meet their end. There is no motivation to mourn the losses as their corporate wrong-doings are glossed over or you only hear about them from Sarah Jane’s voiceover. She hasn’t exactly set herself up as a trustworthy antagonist. You don’t find yourself rooting for Sarah Jane either, as her character is not exactly on the side of good and there is no real justification for her actions. Would we really want the head of a pharmaceutical company to be a murderess with stolen ideas? Besides, it’s not exactly a lifelong dream of Sarah Jane’s to be an executive, but a seed planted by someone else to get her mind off her real goal of finding a beau.
Just as Sarah Jane begins to kill (pun intended) at her new job, her knight in shining armor arrives - ahomicide detective named Bill Malloy (Adam Goldberg), whose top priority is the case of the dropping executives over at Judge Pharmaceuticals. Now Sarah Jane must balance her workload as an executive by day and a cold-blooded killer by night, all the while trying to win the affections of Bill Malloy and keep him in the dark about her involvement in the mysterious deaths.
It is Goldberg’s performance and that of Missi Pyle’s that are the real standouts here. In fact, the supporting cast is full of people you wish you saw more. Bibb does a solid job, though it is rather hard to believe her as a shy and unattractive wallflower, with her long legs and conventional good looks.
What is to be appreciated about the film is what they managed to accomplish on an indie budget. The film is a throwback and whimsical without feeling dated. From the animated opening sequence to the wardrobe and set design, the film is lush and appealing to the eye. Fans of Pushing Daisies will definitely enjoy this one.
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