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Tuesday, December 1,2009

'The Strip' nothing great, but still engaging

By Cary Darling

At first, The Strip appears to aim to do for strip malls what Office Space did for office parks.

The setting, this time, is a low-rent electronics store, but there's a similar motley crew of barely employable underachievers, including the rudderless son of the owner, an immigrant who spends most of his time obsessing about an impending arranged marriage, a homeless slacker, a boorish loudmouth and a blissfully oblivious manager who thinks team-building exercises are the answer to the store's dismal bottom line.

Unlike Office Space, though, the more obvious comedic elements in The Strip are forced and predictable. Where The Strip, the first feature project from director/writer Jameel Khan, redeems itself is in the more bittersweet moments that make the film more appealing than it otherwise might be.

Rodney Scott is Kyle, a clerk at the store who gets to move up to manager when his dad (Chelcie Davis) who runs the place demotes good-natured if clueless Glenn (Dave Foley). But Kyle doesn't really want the promotion, especially after meeting free-spirited Melissa (Jenny Wade) in a bookstore.

His co-workers are finding their lives changing, too. Avi (Federico Dordei), who's from Pakistan, is getting anxious as the day of his wedding approaches. Carefree Jeff (Billy Aaron Brown), who finds himself without a roof over his head, needs to get serious when he makes a romantic blunder. And married Glenn has to decide what to do with his sudden onset midlife crisis when an attractive new shop owner (Tenique Mathieu) moves into the mini-mall.

There are no major surprises in The Strip — it's never raucously hilarious, and it doesn't really have anything new to say about male bonding and growing up after adulthood. Still, it sports a gentle amiability that's engaging.

The Strip

3 stars (out of 5)

PG-13 (sexual references); 91 min.

Cary Darling writes for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

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