By Don Simpson | November 16, 2009
Director: Mike Million
Writer(s): Mike Million
Starring: Luke Wilson, David Koechner, Gretchen Mol
Charlie Thurber (Luke Wilson) is an English professor at Gray College; he is up for tenure this year and, after recently witnessing his good friend and Anthropology professor Jay’s (David Koechner) tenure hopes get trampled, Charlie is concerned. Charlie’s worriment increases when the English department hires a hot blond English professor from Yale, Elaine Grasso (Gretchen Mol).
Still smarting from his failed attempt at tenure, Jay pitches in to help Charlie in his quest for tenure; however most of Jay’s plans (toilet-papering the Dean’s house, going to a student party while on ecstasy, chasing after Bigfoot) only prove to damage Charlie’s chances.
Charlie’s personal life is also in turmoil. He and his sister, Margarette (Sasha Alexander), recently put their forgetful father (Bob Gunton) in a nursing home; but their father is acting out (calling PBS telethons, running away) because he feels abandoned by his kids. As far as his romantic life is concerned – things are so bad that when Elaine invites him over for dinner, he resorts to taking a cue from his father and calling the PBS telethon for a date.
We discover that Charlie is a college professor because his father was a college professor. Charlie is recognized as a great teacher, the students adore him and he seems to really enjoy teaching; but he miserably fails to abide by the politics of professorhood – namely publishing. The moral of Tenure is that you should do what you are good at and what you truly love to do. You should not do something only because someone else wants you to do it.
Sort of a Rushmore for adults except that Tenure relies predominantly on absurdity and silliness (thanks primarily to Jay) to get by. The characters have very little depth (though all of the acting is quite fun), mainly because the film dedicates too much time and effort toward convincing the audience to sympathize with Charlie. The biggest problem with this is that Tenure makes it difficult to want to sympathize with Charlie since most of his actions are selfish and void of common sense; in other words, Tenure is trying to make the audience do something they don’t want to do – which is in blatant contradiction to the overall moral of the film.