If you like Pam from "The Office" - or at least pre-marriage Pam from the early seasons - then you'll enjoy The Giant Mechanical Man, a sweet and offbeat romantic comedy starring Jenna Fischer that has gone largely overlooked by mainstream audiences.
Fischer plays Janice, a soft-spoken woman whose lack of assertiveness has her suffering through a unrewarding job and at the whim and fancy of her overbearing sister (Malin Akerman). Things begin to change when she becomes friends with a depressed coworker named Tim (Chris Messina), who unbeknownst to her is also a street performer known as the Giant Mechanical Man.
Written and directed by Lee Kirk, The Giant Mechanical Man is a subtle comedy that never strives to be outwardly funny and yet has a cute, real-world charm that works to its advantage. Topher Grace plays a cheesy motivational sister who attempts to court Janice, and while the particular character is an embellishment - perhaps not even a very good one - on what happens in ordinary life, his representation of a square peg being forced into a round hole is relatable to any perennially single person.
But that's getting all deep and stuff. The movie's success relies largely on the chemistry between Fischer and Messina. The two play off each other extremely well; their friendship and eventual romantic relationship is believable and heartwarming. Fischer turns in a fine performance, even if it is nearly identical to her "Office" character. Messina is also very good.
The Giant Mechanical Man, now on DVD, is a rewarding little movie. It doesn't offer anything new, but in the realm of romantic comedies it has more than enough sparks to make it worthwhile.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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