Jennifer Aniston plays a woman being benevolently stalked by a motel manager, Steve Zahn. (Samuel Goldwyn Pictures)
'Management" has two things going for it: Steve Zahn and Jennifer Aniston. Luckily, those are two very good things.
Writer-director Stephen Belber has created a somewhat standard quirky-indie universe here, the sort filled with unlikely encounters, uncomfortable-but-sweet characters and somewhat random and sudden alliances, and with lesser actors his film might feel flimsy instead of whimsical.
But no one does the truly innocent grown-up thing better than Zahn, and Aniston -- as she's proven with small films "The Good Girl" and "Friends With Money" -- seems to love crawling inside conflicted women characters.
Aniston plays Sue, a woman who sells packaged art to corporations and hotels, stopping at a small town hotel for a couple of days while on a business trip.
Enter Zahn as Mike, son of the motel's owners, precisely the sort of awkward, lost but genuine soul who pops up in films like this. He decides to clumsily hit on Sue by delivering champagne to her door. And he's just odd enough that she offers him encouragement.
Which turns Mike into a benevolent stalker of sorts as he follows her home to Maryland, and then later to Seattle, where she's moved in with her on-off boyfriend (Woody Harrelson), a punk rocker turned yogurt magnate.
Belber goes a bit far with Mike's Northwest experiences and the film veers into silliness. But the connection between Zahn and Aniston holds the film together to the end.
Those looking for an Aniston star turn may be disappointed as Zahn gets more screen time. But the easy chemistry between the two makes "Management" an admittedly slight but unabashedly sweet pleasure.