In “The Last Shift”, Richard Jenkins plays Stanley. He’s worked at the same Dearborn, Michigan fast food restaurant for the past 38 years. But Stanley’s finally ready to move on. He’s made plans to head down to Florida to care for his elderly mother. But that’s easier said than done.
Less than a week before his last shift, Stanley is asked to train his replacement. Jevon (Shane Paul McGhie) has just gotten out of jail. He needs the job to support his ex-girlfriend and their son — and not violate his parole. But he and Stanley have vastly different personalities and ideas about the world, so this transition may not go as smoothly as everyone hopes.
The most interesting aspect of “The Last Shift” are the conversations these two very different characters have while working together at the restaurant. They discuss race, social issues and life – from two very different perspectives. This should have been the structure of the entire movie: a two-man old school/new school drama that takes place during their shift between midnight and 6am.
Instead, writer/director Andrew Cohn surrounds these quality moments with typical melodramatic material. Both characters are drastically overwritten. Jenkins is forced to take Stanley to a cartoonish level. The veteran actor is not having a good month. He also chews the scenery in his other new film, “Kajillionaire”.
And there are some truly odd story shifts. Both main characters (and others) make strange decisions – as does Cohn. There are moments in the final act that simply don’t make any sense.
It’s nice to see Ed O’Neill involved in a project post-“Modern Family”. But he isn’t given much to do as Stanley’s lifelong neighbor. Same goes for Allison Tolman (of fellow former ABC shows “Downward Dog” and “Emergence”), who plays Jevon’s parole officer.
I was surprised to see Alexander Payne’s name in the end credits as an executive producer. “The Descendants” and “Nebraska” director must not have had much input on this project. And how “The Last Shift” got accepted into the “prestigious” Sundance Film Festival is a mystery.
LCJ GRADE: D+
Running Time: 90 min.