A blubbering futon salesman who can’t even manage to sell a mattress, Bob Funk (Michael Leydon Campbell) hates his job, drinks too much, and can’t stand his boss, who just so happens to his mother (Grace Zabriskie). One can say he sees the glass half-empty, incapable of living like other 9-5 drones. His social ineptness also proves a cause for concern, brandishing a few sexual harassment complaints, joblessness, and at least one or two alcohol-induced spats. Funk is quite simply a fool, possibly harboring a few mental disorders, and living in a cesspool of irksome dilberts, endlessly treading water in this game of life. No one frankly knows how to help him, or cares: His doting brother tries to play mediator between Bob and their hellish mother but soon reveals himself as miserably callous as the rest. Fortunately, the sweet new girl, Ms. Thorne (Rachel Leigh Cook), makes his life a little more tolerable—even when his employment options narrow down to janitorial services.
Playing the misogynistic, bar-hopping, impulsive, titular irritant, Campbell’s thespy histrionics come off as truly labored—most likely due to the source material: His character is so narrowly drawn, providing no window into Funk’s soul other than through many incomprehensible, galling monologues when he visits a therapist. And surrounding Funk are a few too many Office Space clones (Stephen Root shows up on Milton auto pilot); these characters are insufferable to watch, as the actors never transcend the flimsily sown archetypes. Amy Ryan makes a cameo as one of Funk’s one-night stands, and is probably the only actor to leave untarnished from writer-director Craig Carlisle’s clunky script. (I still wonder, though, when Ryan decided to sign on to this debacle: before or after the Gone Baby Gone Oscar nod?)
Revealing scant insight into this ubiquitous American experience, or providing one character to actually root for in this mess, Carlisle’s Bob Funk is in drastic need of a cinematic shock at 24 frames per second. At least Robert Altman could paint misanthropy in a humorous light, and with a wide cast of characters that establish a far finer and engrossing world to Mr. Funk’s. Better call in sick than be privy to a sizable workday as lackluster as this maladroit endurance test.