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Compliments to the Management

Say what you want about Jennifer Aniston’s disastrous real-life love life, she’s still one of the best comedic actresses around. And she’s also pretty easy on the eyes. Aniston’s “X-Factor” thing plus an outstanding performance by her co-star Steve Zahn make Management one of the most pleasant surprises of the summer movie season.

Jen plays Sue Claussen, a bored traveling corporate art saleswoman from Maryland, who ends up staying at roadside motel in Arizona owned and managed by Zahn’s goofy and lonely character, Mike Cranshaw, and his parents. As soon as Mike lays eyes on Sue’s rear-end, he’s lovestruck. He brings a old dusty bottle of wine to her room, compliments of The Management, and the two end up having a passionate yet awkward sexual encounter in the laundry room. When she leaves, she doesn’t expect to ever see Mike again. But she soon finds out that she can’t get rid of him.

Mike may be shy and aimless but he finds a new purpose in his life in Sue. With little money in his pocket, he follows her uninvited back to Maryland and then to Washington, where she reunites with her ambitious ex-punk boyfriend (Woody Harrelson), now a rich yogurt magnate. And while Sue and Mike have really absolutely nothing in common, there’s no denying they have chemistry. Which is why Mike’s antics are seen as persistent instead of stalking by Sue.

Zahn and Aniston give two truly lovely performances — he makes his loser totally lovable and she shines as the uncomfortable object of Mike’s affection. Management could have been one of those annoying Indies that tries too hard to be quirky, but it’s actually very sweet and sincere, sad and funny.

And Aniston is so charming and beautiful in this movie, you really do have to question Brad Pitt’s decision to let her go. It’s truly mind-boggling.

3 Radars out of 5

(Photo: Suzanne Hanover / SAMUEL GOLDWYN FILMS)

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