Judge Brett Cullum knows that coffee is for closers.
Life is all about closing the deal…right?
Somehow The Office has made corporate comedy extremely cool; either that show or the comic strip Dilbert did. The indie comedy Outside Sales rides the wave of cubicle chic to provide the funny of selling payroll services like the men and women of ADP do every day. Paul Wells (Lucas Fleischer, States of Grace) is the best salesman the fictional APT local branch has, meaning he's a closer who consistently brings in 150% of his quota. Then one day he catches his wife in bed with his coworker (director Blayne Weaver, Uncross the Stars). Suddenly Paul goes into a sales slump, while his coworker nabs not only his wife but the boss title.
With no motivation to do well, Paul is on the chopping block, when in comes a beautiful new sales rep (Tricia O'Kelley, The New Adventures of Old Christine) who is supposed to be his replacement. Paul falls for her, but the plot thickens. She will get his job unless he can out sell her. Welcome to the wonderful world of sales, where your new love is your biggest competition.
Outside Sales is a well-written comedy, smart enough to wring outrageous hilarity out of the most mundane settings. This is not a glamorous job for beautiful people. It's a world where poor souls are only as good as their sales figures. Veterans of the sales force will laugh and groan with recognition at the situations and conversations revolving around closing deals. It may be all too familiar territory, but the film handles things extremely well.
The performances are painfully real, the situations are appropriately comedic, and the script moves at a good clip. Tricia O'Kelly and Lucas Fleischer do the lion's share of the work, both making us believe in their relationship which goes from hate to love and back again. The supporting characters fill out their roles nicely too. We get the fat guy, the womanizer, the ditzy girl, and the sleazy boss, but all work beyond cliche.
Outside Sales is a small comedy, but one that somehow makes the commonplace work. The film was a festival favorite, but really didn't receive a huge theatrical release even in the art house world. It's a nice find on DVD, one that seems especially well suited for the small screen.
The DVD looks fine with a crisp transfer, displaying a natural color palette with some shimmer on busy office outfits. The surround mix is centered on the two front speakers, but does the job. There are some truly nice extras including deleted scenes, botched takes, and a very fun director and cast commentary. Sporting more extras than what you'd find on most major releases, this is a good package for an indie feature.
Outside Sales is a testament to what you can do with a small budget, good actors, and a smart script. It takes the world of payroll sales, and blows it up into lunacy. It's the rare romantic comedy that both men and women will appreciate, and a must for anybody who's job description includes a quota or commission. A fun little feature that deserves to be seen, closing the deal and then some. And it's a hell of a lot more fun than Glengarry Glen Ross or Boiler Room.
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