This is a new column where I will take a well-known film or television show and offer recommendations based on either the genre or the actors as a way to highlight other titles that might be appealing.
We start this time with the ever-popular “The Office”, the successful American version that ran for nine seasons. I’ll highlight each main cast member and point out a film or television show that they have appeared in that is worth checking out.
In The Office, Carell played branch manager Michael Scott which showed off his comedy skills as he portrayed a guy who was zany but at times warm and sympathetic, making him the most popular character in the programs history. A character that begins as purely silly and evolves into someone who was much more than then when he said goodbye to the workplace at the end of season seven.
I recommend – Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World followed Dodge (Carell) and Penny (Keira Knightly), two polar opposites who meet when Penny seeks refuge in Dodge’s apartment during a street riot brought about by news that the world is coming to an end. The two find themselves traveling together and forming a bond that might otherwise never have occurred. With warm and subtle interactions the two bring about a relationship that is a true joy to watch. Carell stands out here, his facial expressions, his muted and subdued manner and the way he finds himself caring for this young and vibrant woman who jumped through a window into his life is just excellent. Playing against the usual type of role you might be used to seeing him in, such as his work in pure-comedy films like Anchorman, this shows how great of an actor he is.
(Also try: Dan in Real Life, The Way Way Back)
As the assistant to the regional manager, Michael Scott, Rainn Wilson’s Dwight K. Shrute is one of the most memorable characters in television history and for good reason, he is completely off-his-rocker. A hunter who likes Battlestar Galactica, owns a beet-farm and had an on/off relationship with the prudish accountant, Dwight was perhaps known better for his feud and friendship with co-worker Jim, as the two played a continuous game of one-upmanship with one another for nine years.
I recommend – Super (2010)
From the director of the recently released “Guardians of the Galaxy” James Gunn, Super is the tale of Frank, a mild-mannered man who, when his wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for a drug dealer (Kevin Bacon) decides to, after listening to the word of God, attempt to save his wife from the life she has chosen and the way in which he chooses to do it is by creating an alter-ego by the name of “The Crimson Bolt”. Along the way he is joined by a spunky and foul-mouthed girl named Libby who becomes his sidekick “Boltie” (Ellen Page). The film is violent, hilarious and thoroughly entertaining while maintaining a sense of realism which some superhero films don’t tend to do. Wilson does a great job of portraying Frank, a down-on-his-luck everyman who takes it upon himself to fight crime in the simplest of ways, with a pipe wrench.
(Also try: Hesher)
Involved in one of the main storylines of The Office, Krasinski, as Jim Halpert, took us on a journey through his relationship with Pam, from their first dance through their first kiss all the way to their life as a married couple with kids. His relationship with Pam was a focal point of The Office, but so were his numerous pranks on various co-workers, especially Dwight.
I recommend – Away We Go (2009)
An independent dramedy from director Sam Mendes, Away We Go follows expectant parents Burt (Krasinski) and Veronica (Maya Rudolph) as they embark on a road trip across North America, visiting family members and friends, as they attempt to find the perfect place for them to settle down and raise a family. With a low-fi tone and a beautiful soundtrack, the film should appeal to fans of this emerging genre which features films such as Frances Ha, The Puffy Chair and Your Sister’s Sister. Rural and toned down in its presentation, this feels like a story involving real people with real lives and not perfect Hollywood carvings. Krasinski loses the fun-loving and sarcastic nature of Jim Halpert to play a man awaiting fatherhood, a subtle and understated performance that works brilliantly with the way the film presents itself.
(Also try: Leatherheads)
As Pam Beasley/Halpert, Fischer is the main female presence in The Office. Her knowing glances across the room to her eventual husband Jim made her a loveable and relatable character. Falling in love, marrying her soul mate and having children helped Pam grow and brought about more comedy related scenes for her in later seasons, showing she could do “funny” as much as she could do “cute”.
I recommend – The Giant Mechanical Man (2012)
This quirky romantic comedy drama is just one of those films that is enjoyable to watch. Fischer plays Janice, a quiet and polite zoo worker who meets Tim (Chris Messina) a silver painted street performer for which the title highlights. This was cute but different, not what you would normally see in what can often be described as a stale genre, the “romantic comedy”. Messina and Fischer have a nice chemistry, and it was cool to see Jenna do something different away from her work in The Office and her high-comedy roles in films like Blades of Glory and Walk Hard.
(Also try: A Little Help)
Helms joined The Office cast later than most but he became a mainstay and his role as Andy Bernard became a main one. Annoying, try-hard and delusional, Andy became almost like Michael Scott as he became more likeable as the seasons passed. His desperation to be liked and for his parents to be proud of him drove his character for much of the show.
I recommend – Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011)
Mark and Jay Duplass, the directors of “mumble-core” films such as The Puffy Chair, Baghead and Cyrus, released this film starring Helms and Jason Segal as two brothers who come together on a mission to find out whether or not Pat’s (Helms) wife is committing adultery. Working beside Segal, who plays the socially inept Jeff, Helms shows off a rapport with his co-star that feels natural and at times, through the arguments and clashing, tender. Helms, who in The Hangover and The Office was prone to outbursts of madcap comedy takes on a more unassuming part, and as Pat he shows a flawed and imperfect person that we can relate to much easier than that of his other famous roles. The film itself is one of those experiences where very little really happens, but we are instead taken on a simplistic character driven tale that deals with relationships and family.
(Also try: Cedar Rapids)
Recommendations for the remainder of the cast:
B.J Novak (Ryan Howard): I recommend – Saving Mr. Banks (Plays Robert Sherman, one of the song-writers who wrote the music and songs for the hit Disney musical Mary Poppins)
Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor): I recommend – The Mindy Project (Leaving The Office, Mindy writes and stars in a show in which she is the main focus, playing a doctor)
Craig Robinson (Daryl Philbin): I recommend – Zack & Miri Make a Porno (Playing Zack’s co-worker, Delaney, who helps finance and film an amateur porn film)
Ellie Kemper (Erin Hannon): I recommend – Bridesmaids (Plays one of the, erm, bridesmaids, a naïve character not unlike her Office character, Erin)
That’ll do it for now, the remainder of the cast have either not been in enough to recommend, or I haven’t seen the things they have been a part of. I hope you enjoyed this column and you discover something new to enjoy.