We all need money. Every one of us is stuck in this system, whether we like it or not. And a lot of people are stuck in dead end jobs, where they are barely getting by. ‘The Last Shift’ addresses this issue in a low key way, using a light-hearted dramedy format, about two employees that work the third shift at a mom and pop fast food style restaurant.
Richard Jenkins plays Stanley, a man that has been working at the restaurant for 38 years. He wears a championship ring on his finger, like it was the last moment of true glory he’s had in his life. Stanley is tasked with training the new guy Jevon, played by Shane Paul McGhie. Jevon is fresh out of County Jail with a family that gets on his case to clean up his life, and a fresh mouth to feed with his newborn baby. Jenkins is a rare breed, he has been acting in films since 1985, though never reaching “star” status and not exactly a character actor either, he is a name that can lend any film legitimacy and gravitas. McGhie hasn’t had a breakthrough film yet as far as being a household name, but keep your eye on this young man, he holds a very promising future with the talent that he shows on screen. We also get a great supporting turn from the ‘Married With Children’ man himself, Ed O’Neill, who portrays a jolly, working class friend, to Jenkins’ Stanley.
The film is set in Albion, Michigan—though the production actually shot near Chicago—and director Andrew Cohn is an Ann Arbor native, who used to work for the underground, d.i.y. zine, ‘Found’. The movie references Michigan throughout it’s running time; the Lions football team, Michigan State University, and the cities of Flint and Grand Rapids. I love seeing Michigan get shout-outs on screen, so kudos to Cohn, who also wrote the script, for representing our great Mitten State! This is his first foray into fictional filmmaking, though he does have quite a body of work in the documentary field.
In this digital age, it must be challenging to give movies a distinct look, but cinematographer W. Mott Hupfel III, manages to pull this off with the laid back, cool, summer vibe, he is lending the film. And while I was watching this film, I couldn’t help but think that there was an Alexander Payne tone going on, and lo & behold when the credits rolled, his name popped up as an Executive Producer, along with Mark Orten’s name as composer, who also scored Payne’s film ‘Nebraska’.
I’ve worked a lot of these odd jobs throughout the course of my life, and in them, you end up meeting some interesting characters, people whom you may not have normally associated with, had it not been that you were put together in such a scenario. And that’s kinda what watching ‘The Last Shift’ is like, it’s a job you are stuck with to make ends meet, but you try and make the best of it while you can.