Stanley (Richard Jenkins), an aging fast-food worker, plans to call it quits after 38 years on the graveyard shift at Oscar’s Chicken and Fish. He’s given them four decades of his life; they’ve raised his hourly wage from $3.10 to just over $13. What are the odds that such wildly different people — crossing paths as they circle the same drain — might learn something “beautiful” from each other in a way that reaffirms their complacency in the capitalistic system that hobbles them both? A breezy yet bittersweet little drama about an aging white fast-food worker (Richard Jenkins) who’s tasked with training his young black replacement (Shane Paul McGhie) after 38 years behind the counter of Albion, Michigan’s shittiest “burger” joint, Andrew Cohn’s “The Last Shift” has all the hallmarks of an insufferably pat story about the search for common ground in America. Editor’s note: This review was originally published at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. He captures Stan’s complicated, conflicting layers, and never lets the part tip too far into pathos without reeling it back. But Stan’s finally decided to quit. It's gassy, not as nutritious as advertised, and in the end not at all filling. His assignment is to train his replacement (Shane Paul McGhie), a smart young Black man who’s trying to get his life back on track after a brief stint in jail. Though he looks old enough for retirement – Jenkins limps with the stiff knees and aching back of an ex-jock who took too many tackles – he’s saved up just enough cash to get to Sarasota and take care of his dementia-stricken mother, who is astonishingly still alive. Doesn’t he applaud the work ethic of immigrant prep cook Fernando (Dano Duran)? He never so much as sighs about, say, a high school love who slipped away, and if there are other singles in town who might be lonely, too, apparently they’ve never popped by for a late-night fish fillet. He considers that a fair trade. Instead, “The Last Shift” explodes its central dynamic into something far more nuanced, as the blame that struggling people are conditioned to place on each other slowly boils into punitive action. Additionally, our coverage will provide alternative viewing options whenever they are available. There's a fast-food analogy for writer-director Andrew Cohn's "The Last Shift" that's too obvious to pass up. The Last Shift is an American story about two men struggling in the same town, while worlds apart. Movie Reviews TV Reviews Roundtables Podcasts 'The Last Shift': Film Review | Sundance 2020. Everyone who wanders by Cohn’s camera is drunk or bitter or broke, except for a car of rowdy football-playing seniors who howl, “Stan the man!” through the drive-thru window, flushed with the foolhardy confidence that their futures are totally going to rule. The actor is a touch more manic and unstable than usual (though sporting a similar vibe to his comparatively menacing work in Miranda July’s “Kajillionaire,” which also premiered at this year’s Sundance), and nothing feels more intrinsically American than his ability to seem aggrieved and heroic at the same time. In Andrew Cohn's fantastic fast-food tragedy, Richard Jenkins and Shane Paul McGhie play co-workers pitted against each other in poverty. Get a list of the best movie and TV titles recently added (and coming... What to Watch Now on HBO Max and the HBO App, Music title data, credits, and images provided by, Movie title data, credits, and poster art provided by. Counters Stan, “It’s our s—hole.”, Stan’s proud of his life. The town, which is about an hour from where Cohn grew up, is sliding into despair. He boasts about the creation of the “Stanwich” with a worrying lack of self-awareness, he talks to the laughing jocks who roll into his drive-thru like he’s their coach, oblivious to the fact that the joke is on him, and he name-drops the restaurant’s absent owner with a reverence that betrays his own lack of value, as if he’s not just talking about some guy named Gary who’s been exploiting his labor for the last four decades. If anything, the movie almost seems embarrassed by the smallness of its stakes, but that pathetic energy is also the point: Life will go on if Jevon violates his probation, or if Stanley ruins his retirement plan, because society depends on people like these to fall short and do the bare minimum for themselves and each other (an idea that’s best expressed through a terrible incident that Jevon exhumes from Stanley’s past). The dynamic between them is rich without feeling overwritten — if you squint you might see shades of Annie Baker — and their best scenes are vivid enough to make Cohn’s decidedly sedate camerawork feel too far removed for its own good. Interviews with leading film and TV creators about their process and craft. McGhie comes off better, but his character’s background is sloppily sketched-in. “It wasn’t pretty.”, Stan and Jevon’s conflicts are both small and fixable — say, a frozen burger served to an exhausted, furious mom — and overwhelming, especially when Jevon tries to talk to Stan about inequality and race. Check box if your review contains spoilers, Now Playing: The Last Shift (Clean Trailer), The Last Shift is an American story about two men struggling in the same town, while worlds apart. Ultimately, this film presents 2 interesting characters, whose sweet encounter expands their mutual understanding and empathy. We encourage readers to follow the safety precautions provided by CDC and health authorities. Isn’t he deferential to his boss, Shazz (Da’Vine Joy Randolph, in a welcome follow-up to “Dolemite Is My Name”), and friendly to the black regulars who come by the place? Jenkins’ performance is the reason to see The Last Shift. Cohn’s made several documentaries about the failing American dream, and he’s attuned to Stan’s pride and ignorance. Stan also hasn’t outgrown the racism of his era. As Jevon, McGhie is roiling with wasted potential. Stanley (Richard Jenkins), an aging fast-food worker, plans to call it quits after 38 years on the graveyard shift at Oscar’s Chicken and Fish. For that alone, it’s worth a watch, even if Cohn is too cynical – or perhaps too honest – to strive for a happy ending. Still, Cohn makes it OK to laugh as Stan trains Jevon on his hard-earned wisdom, like that middle-class women prefer honey mustard to ranch. Stanley (Richard Jenkins), an … “The Last Shift,” a fast-food tragedy written and directed by Andrew Cohn, is a gut punch with a side of anguish. This Article is related to: Film, Reviews and tagged Reviews, Richard Jenkins, Sundance, The Last Shift. Variety and the Flying V logos are trademarks of Variety Media, LLC. Grim as that may sound, “The Last Shift” is told with a light touch that allows the film to sneak up on you, and even its most painful moments are softened by heartrending solidarity; this ruthless tragicomedy of unexamined lives is so evocative of Alexander Payne’s work that he briefly considered directing it himself, and still maintains an executive producer credit.
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