Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I have a little Tenure story. It doesn’t involve me directly because I wouldn’t have even made it out of college with my Bachelor’s degree were I not able to use my mystical powers of mind seduction on my college professor’s, but instead concerns my beloved late mother. There is great intelligence in my family. Tragically it skips a generation. I have warned my own son that his children will be idiots so adjust accordingly. Anyway my mother was a tenure track professor at three colleges, at each college she got this tenure and at two of these colleges she walked away from it, mainly because mom had a real low tolerance for assholery – which apparently goes hand in hand with ‘tenure track’. I don’t know if Writer / Director Mike Million has a PhD or is real close to somebody who was tenure track, but the stories I was told and the stories that are in his movie are eerily similar, with the key exception being that this movie is way funnier than the stories my mom used to tell me, and my mom’s stories were pretty funny.

Luke Wilson is professor Charlie Thurber, a hard working English professor at this mythical university desperately trying to do what needs to be done to get this tenure he thinks he wants. His best friend at The U, anthropology professor and Sasquatch obsessive Dr. Jay Hadley (David Koechner), has already had his tenure review board meeting and was roundly rejected, despite all of the solid work he’s put in tracking down Sasquatch. The good thing for Charlie and his chances to get this spot is that he’s largely running unopposed… at least until The U hires the very pretty, very intelligent, frequently published and from Yale University no less, Professor Elaine Grasso (Gretchen Mol). Now things aren’t looking so good for Charlie no more.

A further complication in Charlie’s life is that his father William (Bob Gunton), a retired Ivy league professor of literature has much greater expectations of Charlie than Charlie has of himself, though William is struggling somewhat at his care facility and

dealing with his arguably deteriorating mental faculties. I would be remiss if I didn’t warn the public that Bob Gunton shows his ass this movie. Had some ninety year old woman bent over and was going to town. Disturbing beyond belief.

There’s more to the story in this movie but you know, it really doesn’t matter all that much. Trying to describe ‘Tenure’ is actually doing ‘Tenure’ a disservice because Charlie’s pursuit of tenure is almost a McGuffin in this movie. Not quite because it is relevant and it is the lynchpin of most everything driving the movie but his pursuit of tenure is merely a conduit to all of the other wonderful and funny things that are going on in this movie. Charlie at a dinner, somebody stealing a coke, a poetry club meeting, a cheap bottle of wine… none of these things by me mentioning them are even remotely funny, but in the context of this movie… And it is these funny things, some broad, some subtle with almost all of it with a tinge of real life truth that make ‘Tenure’ works so well as a comedy, at least for me.

For example, when Charlie’s buddy drags him to one of those network marketing schemes, this one featuring a Herbal Erection product, I’ve been dragged by friends of mine to events such as these and it went almost exactly as it was presented in this movie. It wasn’t an erection product thank goodness, I think it was more along the lines of cheap long distance service, but the clown ran out in assembly room like he was Jay Leno or somebody and proceeded to put together poorly prepared sentences to sell this worthless product, but Mike Million was on point.

Another thing that works very well in this movie is Luke Wilson. I don’t know if Luke Wilson is a good actor or not, but I do know that when he does he does that Luke Wilson thing he does, he does it very, very well. I’ve seen a couple of movies where Mr. Wilson stepped out of that everyman, sad sack, simple guy in a bad situation thing he does, those movies that come to mind being ‘Henry Poole was Here’ and ‘The Wendell Baker Story’ and I didn’t like those movies all that much. Of course Luke Wilson can do with his career whatever the hell he wants with no input from me, but I’m just saying that Luke Wilson in ‘Old School’ or ‘Idiocracy’ or ‘My Super-Ex Girlfriend’ is a Luke Wilson I’m personally comfortable with. When the character of Charlie was being an asshole towards the character of Elaine, that was kind of uncomfortable for me, but when he turned back into the pleasant nice everyman that I’m comfortable with, all was right in the world. Now David Keochner was steadily trying to steal this movie from Luke Wilson, but he stepped off the gas a little bit and let Luke enjoy his moment. The cast all around was very good including Gunton and Mol, and a myriad of unsung funny people, who admittedly probably don’t exist in real life but sure were amusing to watch in this movie.

I enjoyed this movie an awful lot as ‘Tenure’ had some really big laughs and a lot more little ones cleverly strewn throughout its all too short running time. A very, very enjoyable movie.

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