The Strip: Honorable and Pleasant and Not Great
This well-meaning but dull indie comedy about the existential pain of nine-to-five drudgery is begging—to an unseemly degree—for an Office Space comparison. It includes a rumpled, charming everyman in the lead (Rodney Scott, pleasant enough), a pretty and redemptive love interest (Jenny Wade, so sugary she might melt away in a drizzle), a hilarious South Asian person, an asshole boss, lots of silly motivational jargon, about a bajillion wacky supporting characters, and a soulless business keeping them all in uncomfortable company. But though the comparison is unavoidable, The Strip lacks its predecessor's pitch-perfect deadpan oddness and, more importantly, its really, really funny jokes.
But The Strip is, to be fair, medium likable. The film concerns a team of employees at a strip-mall electronics store called Electri-City hawking shitty off-brand equipment to the three or four people a day who happen to wander through. Our dissatisfied hero is Kyle, who went to college (and presumably did not major in Shitty Boom-Box Salesmanometry) but has been forced into a management-training position by his dad, the owner of Electri-City. Kyle is unhappy about this.
The Strip is an honorable first attempt from writer/director Jameel Khan, getting capable performances out of its mostly unknown cast. (The film's biggest-name star is Dave Foley. Its second biggest star is Missy—I mean "Mom"—from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. She plays the mom.) And though The Strip squeezes a laugh in here and there ("Abraham Lincoln," says Foley during a back-room pep talk, "had a little teamwork problem—it was called the Civil War"), you just wish Khan would try harder not to try so hard.