Demoted Blu-ray Review
When you’re perusing Netflix for B-movies, you know what you’re going to get when it comes to horrors, action films or even dramas. But a B-movie comedy without gratuitous nudity is usually a safe bet to be something to avoid. The main reason is that it doesn’t take a lot of money to make a good comedy and even if the film was originally intended to be a B-movie or not released at all, if it’s funny, someone will pick it up (like what Will Ferrell did with THE FOOTFIST WAY). As for DEMOTED, it had moments that made you think it could work, but it didn’t take long before it reminded you why it was a B-movie.
I love the basic premise…up to a point. Mike (Sean Astin) and Rodney (Michael Vartan) are best buds and the top salesmen at a tire factory. They spend their time ragging on their co-worker, Ken (David Cross) and getting away with whatever they want because they’re good friends with their boss. But when their boss dies of a heart attack, corporate promotes the senior tenured Ken, who ruins the good thing Mike and Rodney had going. At this point, I love the idea and was ready for Mike and Rodney to team up to make Ken’s life miserable. The possibilities were endless. Instead, Ken demotes Mike and Rodney to secretaries and the two guys have to learn some humility and then come to realize how tough being a secretary really is.
So, let’s get this out of the way; DEMOTED is sexist and demoralizing to women. The secretaries in the film are all helpless, weak women that get sexually harassed and passed over for promotion, not to mention they’re considered “below” every other position in the company. Each of them fulfill a stereotype; the slut, the smart one that is too scared to rock the boat, the overweight one and the list goes on. I’m not a feminist sympathizer by any means, but even I was taken aback to how degrading this was to women. It had shades of NINE TO FIVE, but it’s important to point out that NINE TO FIVE was made in 1980 and had its place in time. DEMOTED was made in 2011, but if you didn’t know any better, you might have guessed the 70’s or early 80’s.
We also have a case of severely underused talent. I liked Michael Vartan in ‘Alias’ and was looking forward to seeing him add some of that charm to a comedy. Everyone loves Sean Astin, if not from his GOONIES days, then definitely from the LORD OF THE RINGS. David Cross is an ‘Arrested Development’ alum, so we know he’s a funny guy. But I didn’t like any of these three in DEMOTED. Vartan and Astin seemed lost the entire time and Cross was relegated to potty humor and falling out of his chair to get a laugh.
Even if you can get past the sexism, the giant wrong turn of the film can’t be ignored. It was right on the precipice of hilarity and to see it take that wrong turn was painful. I was figuratively throwing my hands up and looking around for an explanation the entire second and third acts. Adding in the plot with the secretaries was pointless and if I had watched Mike and Rodney battle Ken for office supremacy, we would have had a much better film. With comedies, sometimes simpler is better and DEMOTED just got away from itself.
Video: DEMOTED was made on a shoestring budget and at times, it shows. I hated director J.B. Rogers use of close-ups (why do B-movies use close-ups and odd camera angles so much?) and that seemed to have thrown the video quality off at times.
Audio: The audio is fine