“Management”
 
            Mike (Steve Zahn) is one of those wandering-through-life kind of guys.  His Mom (Margo Martindale) and Dad (Fred Ward) own and operate a small motel in Arizona , and Mike just sort of helps out, as the handyman and night clerk (where he sneaks cigarettes at the counter after Mom and Dad leave for the evening).  Dad is distant, still mentally “checked out” after returning from the war.  Mom is perceptive, encouraging her son not to be the kind of man who just goes to the empty space and never returns.  Mike just isn’t sure what he wants, until he lays eyes on Sue Claussen (Jennifer Aniston), who happens to check into the motel on a business trip.  Mike, not very socially adept, stumbles his way into trying to meet her---he offers her a (cheap) bottle of wine, compliments of “management.”  Sue, for her part, seems “with it,” but also seems to not have a lot of great options in her life.  She travels for this company that mass-produces the kind of art that serves as decor for motel walls.  She plays solitaire on her laptop in the evenings.  It turns out she does have a boyfriend, Jango (Woody Harrelson), who’s a former punk-rocker-turned-investor who might offer her security, but little warmth.  Mike is just obsessed.  He spends what little cash he has trying to be wherever she is (even if it’s Maryland ), and there’s part of her that’s off-put by his startling presumption, and a part of her that’s flattered by his utter devotion.  She’s so ambivalent about him that she continues to send mixed signals, which is occasionally confusing to him, but mostly he just chooses to be encouraged.  As viewers, we root for them in part because we begin to realize that at least with each other, they might find some passion in their lives, and maybe even some ardor:  if not happily ever after, at least some kind of emotional connection.  He’s not exactly her idea of Mr. Right, and with her there’s a disconnect between what she says and what she does, as if she can’t recognize her own feelings.  It’s a love story that’s more sputtering than accelerating into high gear.  And though it won’t charm the socks off you, the part of it where well-meaning, nice people get in the way of their own happiness feels very real.
 
Questions For Discussion:
1)      When have you been “obsessed” by romance? 
2)      When has someone pursued you but you didn’t feel the same attraction?
3)      In the absence of “happily ever after,” is some emotional connection better than none?
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas