Richard Jenkins appears in diverting form once again after an endearingly oddball Kajillionaire in this new topical dramedy set in small-town Michigan (though filmed in the Windy City area).
The Last Shift puts Jenkins, nearly retiring Stanley (an awkward sad-sack with a strong work ethic) in charge of training an aspiring black-writer and new parolee for vandalism Jevon (Shane Paul McGhie of What Men Want) at the fast-food eatery he’s been toiling at for 38 years. To handle the graveyard shift where fish and chicken are its speciality.
Stanley’s set in his ways about life maybe that things aren’t so much worse than they were back when he began; Jenkins shades him ways that suggest developmental atrophy and from exposure on the job displayed in movement and breathing.
The far younger Jevon, a father who hasn’t seen his son is invested with extroverted, smart appeal by McGhie who has been saddled in stereotypical fashion given the set-up.
It does make for some interesting clashes as Jevon and Stanley get a feel for one another as the former isn’t really taking this new opportunity seriously. That puts Stanley in a bit of hot water with his jaded superior. A heated discussion arises about an infamous event at the local high school and emerging truths does bring about a surprising turn for a main character based on perceptions and bias.
Maybe documentarian Andrew Cohen (as writer/director) tackles the issues presented in a manner that doesn’t pay off as this veers from the odd couple scenario of Oscar winning Green Book for example.