The documentary Fired! begins when Woody Allen fires Annabelle Gurwitch from a play. However, it isn't so much that he fires her but how he let her go. Apparently, he was very rude and even told her that the way she was acting in the play, how she was portraying her character, was "retarded." Well, many great works have been fueled by anger and once Gurwitch pulled herself out of the post firing doldrums, she managed to write this film which is directed by Chris Bradley and Kyle LaBrache. Part expose on the idea of being fired, part talking head footage of Gurwitch's friends discussing being fired, and part lament on the instability many people feel towards jobs that offer them no security, this film is both both funny and heartbreaking at the same time.
Gurwitch spends her portion of the film venting about being fired but she doesn't simply rest there. Sometimes on camera with subjects like Tim Allen, Jeff Garlin, and Andy Dick, Gurwitch really seems to be trying to understand her situation. The truth that this film posits is that everyone, at some point or another in their lives, is going to be fired. Gurwitch even attends a job fair where people use numerous euphemisms for that dreaded term. She also focuses a bit on a show that she's put on, where people get up and discuss the jobs that they have been let go from. Everything is done with a comic eye, and I appreciate that Gurwitch never seemed to go crazy. In fact, I have no doubt that Woody Allen was as dismissive of her as he was, simply because he seems to have little regard for people when it comes down to something he is working on. I guess this is a the curse of being a renowned director?
Fired! uses the classic Woody Allen styled, white on black credits, and as we see Gurwitch attend meetings with grief counselors, and people putting together their resumes, it's hard not to chuckle when she discusses being fired. I mean, no matter how you try and cut it, acting is not like any other profession. This is why it always strikes me as odd when actors use terms like "Going to work in the morning." I feel like saying, "You haven't worked until you've spent 6 years at a phone job." (Which I did) Or, "You haven't worked until you've carried a refrigerator up six flights of stairs." (Which I have never done nor will I ever be able to do). This film is at all times comical but it does look at the social effect of downsizing, and it ends with Ben Stein and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich really bringing home how off course America has gotten in providing the "American Dream."
While not the kind of documentary that NPR would probably peddle, I found that Fired! made a lot of great points while not getting overly verbose with issues.
As an aside...
I actually was in a movie (sort of) with Annabelle Gurwitch. In The Shaggy Dog, I play the bald juror in the green jacket that Tim Allen singles out at the beginning of the film. I guess Annabelle watched the dailies or stuck around to see that scene being shot, because the next day as I was walking to the holding area for extras, she was walking next to me and she told me that I did "a good job" the day before.
Now that, is class. Are you reading Woody?