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January 2007


by Kam Williams


Distributor: Shout Factory/International Film Circuit
Cast: Tim Allen, Andy Dick, Ann Meara, Fred Willard, Harry Shearer and Sarah Silverman

Running time: 71 minutes




Annabelle Gurwitch Adapts Her Best-Seller into a Funny Feature Film

Given that watching Donald Trump deliver his trademark catchphrase, “You’re fired!” has become an eagerly anticipated form of popular entertainment, it’s only natural that someone might make a movie about getting the ax. In fact, a year ago, Annabelle Gurwitch released a book entitled, “Fired! Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized, and Dismissed.” Gurwitch, an accomplished character actress with sixty-plus screen credits to her name (including The Shaggy Dog, Daddy Day Care and Pollock), was inspired by her having been released on the spot by Woody Allen after having already been cast in a play he was producing. Her feelings hurt, she created a website where she encouraged both visitors to share their worst nightmare experiences of being let go, and then she turned the best of those entries into a well-received best-seller.
The screen version takes a decidedly light-hearted look at its subject matter, for Gurwitch has tapped a coterie of friends and colleagues, mostly showbiz comedians, to talk about being canned. Those weighing-in include Tim Allen, Andy Dick, Ann Meara, Fred Willard, Harry Shearer and Sarah Silverman. While each of these seasoned veterans takes a turn recounting a rather hilarious incident from before they became famous, after a while the film starts to feel more like a string of embellished stand-up routines than contemplations on actual terminations.
Besides the aforementioned celebs, Fired! features cameos by Andy Borowitz (creator of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), game show host Ben Stein, actresses Illeana Douglas and Judy Gold, and Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich (former Secretary of Labor). Far be it from me to spoil anybody’s pungent punchlines, suffice to say that this docuentary is entertaining enough to recommend heartily, even if it’s not quite the powerful polemic against downsizing and outsourcing that it has been billed as.

The basic message here is that everybody gets fired at some time during their careers, and that being able to laugh at yourself might be the best medicine to deal with that trauma.