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Cutthroats
1994 - MPAA Rating: NR - 80 Mins.
Director: Michael Legge
Producer: Michael Legge
Written By: Michael Legge
Starring: Alan Kennedy, Bruce Harding, Michael Legge, Mary Ellen Maloney, Ruth Shane, James Porter
Review by: James O'Ehley
   
With shaky hand-held camera work, washed-out colours, tinny sound and a cameraman’s shadow seen visibly in one shot, un-photogenic ‘actors’ one immediately knows that “Cutthroat” is more indie than most indie movies . . .

The plot involves a passive office worker at a local sales office of ‘Cankers Away’ (‘I didn’t even know what cankers were until I started working here,’ a colleague of his confesses) who suffers from insomnia.

Economic times are tough, and there are rumours of impending lay-offs or whatever euphemism is fashionable right now (a business I worked for which recently closed its doors politely called it ‘restructuring’ – you bet!).

Ever since Don Drinkwater (Alan Kennedy) heard about the impending right-sizings (see what I mean?) he has been struggling to get any sleep at night. During the day at work he is excessively tired. His division manager, having spotted the problem, lends him a tape of ‘relaxing’ ocean sounds to play when he tries to sleep at night. It has worked for him, the kindly division manager admits.

Surprisingly the tape does work, but things aren’t actually working out at ‘Cankers Away’ where office politics run amok.

White collar workers will no doubt recognise the types Drinkwater has to work with.

There is the office bitch who is anal when it comes to employee donations for the office coffee, but not so stringent when it comes to her own petty debts. Then there’s the office smoker (remember this was filmed in the early 1990s when office workers were actually allowed to smoke at the work place). ‘My smoking doesn’t bother anyone does it?’ she blinkeredly asks. ‘Well, a little,’ the office nice girl politely demurs. Finally there’s the office backstabber, Roger, whom no-one seems to have caught onto yet despite his perpetually villainous mugging and smirking.

D-Day finally arrives. A new division manager and his flunkey are appointed. Mr Nice is banished to an office in the basement where there isn’t even any electricity. ‘It isn’t that bad,’ he tells Drinkwater.

The new division manager is the micromanager from hell. His flunkey lectures the workers on how to save on staples, spend less time at the coffee machine and on lunch breaks, and so forth. Meanwhile Drinkwater’s insomnia is getting worse. The office backstabber is moving in for the kill. And Drinkwater, who has given up on the tapes of ocean sounds, has problems differentiating between reality and waking dreams. In one hilarious sequence he is convinced that he had driven over the Pope in a hit ‘n run accident.

All of the above may give you the impression that “Cutthroats” could be a funny comedy in the vein of “Office Space” (an office comedy by the creators of Beavis & Butt-head). Unfortunately “Cutthroats” squanders its satirical and comedic potential early on mostly via some really sophomoric and unfunny humour. Some bits are on target. Other bits come a bit too close to the subject it is satirising: the office politics depicted are at times as dull as the real thing.

Despite some funny moments, “Cutthroats” simply doesn’t work out. It just isn’t funny. Thankfully the running time is a brisk 80 minutes and before the low production values become too much of a pain, the movie ends.

Ultimately “Cutthroats” begs for a script rewrite and bigger budget. Underneath it all there is a good movie struggling to come out . . .
 
Movie Guru Rating
Bland, boring, inept. Forgettable. Bland, boring, inept. Forgettable.
  1.5 out of 5 stars

 
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