Seeing Kevin Smith’s name in the credits as a “special thanks” from the makers of “Night Job” came as no surprise, as “Clerks” was in my head from pretty much the get-go in watching J. Antonio’s black-and-white comedy. It’s easy to see why that template is interesting to filmmakers- put your main character into a job where he has to stay put for 8-12 hours, and see how he reacts to one situation after another. It works just fine for filmmakers looking to hone their craft with actors and as writers, and it can be entertaining for audiences if executed properly. “Night Job” accomplishes this well.
The film starts with James (Jason Torres) showing up for his first night working as overnight doorman at a New York apartment building. He is filling in last minute when the regular doorman, Wally, and he just started on the job last week. He has no idea what is about to come his way, as he has to deal with tenants, street vendors, cops, taxi drivers and the night maintenance man, Romeo (Greg Kritikos), who doesn’t seem to be able to do anything for the tenants, even if it’s as simple as changing the battery of a smoke detector going off. When he gets a break, James goes to a nearby convenience store for a pick-me-up, and he’s going to need it to go through the rest of the night.
This is about as simple a premise as a movie can get- like I said, there’s no overarching theme or narrative. It’s just an exercise at pushing a character to the limits based on what he deals with through the span of a day, and this is a fun one. We get a look at couples going through turbulent times, an old woman inviting a priest for an exorcism, warring neighbors when the noise level gets too high, and tough situations involving law enforcement. The general tone is not as wacky as “Clerks” or “Four Rooms,” which I thought about as well, but it’s still smart, funny observational humor and situational comedy, which I’ll take any time.