Caregiver Wanted depicts a grueling job interview between an awkward and nervous young man and the cantankerous elderly stroke survivor who is considering employing him. Our main character Carl is highly uncomfortable right off the bat. He arrives to the suburban home where other applicants are awaiting their turn on a bench outside. He sits down, clenching his legal pad. After a moment, another applicant emerges from the front door, highly agitated and screams to the others waiting, “if you have any other options, get out of here! That old man is an asshole!” The two young girls who have been waiting alongside Carl stand up and flee immediately, leaving Carl there waiting by himself. A woman comes to the door and asks Carl in then. His twitchy nervousness has reached a fever pitch now, with furtive glances and restlessness in every movement. He tries to mine whatever information he can from the woman as she leaves the room, and we learn that she is his current house mate. She tells him not to worry, that the old man is just looking for a dependable caregiver who will work hard.
She leaves then, and Carl squirms around in his seat as he awaits the arrival of George Larson, the employer in question. We see him approach finally from Carl’s back, hobbling down a flight of stairs, with a look of anger an aggravation. When he finally flops down at the table across from Carl and looks over his resume, he proves to be every bit the asshole the previous candidate had warned of. He blasts Carl’s experience, picking it apart line by line as he zones in on some criticism for everything he’s done, and dismisses his qualifications. Timid Carl doesn’t move throughout this, staying put with a look of unhappiness, but never quite enough to get up and walk out. The old man is giving something far beyond frankness, with a flurry of profanities and often irrelevant and irreverent insults. He mocks the fact that Carl is employed with his family business in an office, stating that it’s probably the only way he could get a job, with the assistance of a family member. He tears into his older employment as well, at Tower Records and Hollywood Video. This gives a hint that the man is much more lucid than he may be letting on as he quickly flags the two positions at defunct companies as High School jobs, then mocks Carl’s credibility for even including them. The last straw comes when the old man starts in on Carl’s experience as a caretaker for his grandmother. He hits a raw nerve as he asks Carl if he gave her sponge baths and sexual favors.
Carl loses it then and decides to leave the interview, but not before completely dressing down the old man. He stands up for himself and defends his past experiences, and concludes by telling returning the old man’s insults and profanities in full measure, finally telling him to drop dead and go to hell, as he turns on his heels and heads for the front door. Before he can make it out, though, the old man stops him. He tells him he’s landed the job, for the very reason that he’s the first to hold his own against the old man’s barrage of abuse. Carl mulls it over for a minute, but ultimately accepts the offer. The two shake hands on the agreement that Carl will begin work the following week.
In keeping with the playful comedic tone of the movie, it’s shot in very bright colors, and the performances aspire to make the film pop with over the top characters as well. The lead actor’s depiction of Carl is so exaggerated in his neurotic behavior that by the time Mr. Larson enters the room, we’re having thoughts similar to his opening insult when he demands from Carl “Are you fucking retarded?” Mr. Larson himself is also taken outside the realm of realism, with his relentlessly disagreeable tone and pointlessly cruel comments building up on each other to levels of disgust so outrageous that he becomes a pure caricature. There’s a risk with performances like these of it going too far to point of the audience losing interest, but in this movie it actually works for it. It gives it a strange tone that leaves us a ready to go along with whatever direction it takes. When the final twist arrives, it’s even a little bit of a letdown because we hope the movie would continue its’ crescendo into the bizarre, and this resolution seems a bit predictable. None the less, there are some laughs along the way, and it’s an enjoyable watch.
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