In this day and age there are so many opportunities out there that it is difficult for anyone to truly be satisfied with mediocrity. The desire to achieve more or find something more personally fulfilling will always overpower the laziness to just settle. In Tenure, Charlie Thurber (Luke Wilson) is a supremely talented, yet underachieving English professor at Grey College working to prove he is worthy of tenure.


Charlie’s life seems to be stuck in a never-ending cycle of mild disappointment. His only friend is an Anthropology professor, Jay Hadley (David Koechner), obsessed with finding Bigfoot. His father (Bob Gunton) expects the greatest from his son because of his own achievements and his sister (Sasha Alexander) is constantly nagging him to visit/help pay for their father in his new, expensive elderly community. The last thing Charlie needed was competition for tenure from a former Yale professor, Elaine (Gretchen Mol). Charlie finds himself learning more about himself as he fights for his job, deals with family issues and creates new relationships with colleagues, students and PBS telethon volunteers.

Tenure is a feel-good movie despite Charlie’s somewhat depressing life. He finds joy in connecting with his students and getting them to enjoy the class material. Much to his dismay, the dean and English department head are not enthused by his relaxed demeanor and much prefer professors that bring prestige to the college. We are shown how influential politics can become when discussing tenure around professors. Charlie and Jay set out on missions to disrupt Elaine’s chances at tenure in an effort to boost Charlie’s resume. As Jay points out, the passion to teach and mold young minds has disappeared and the demand for reputation replaced the core values of the teaching profession.

There is nothing uproariously comedic about the film, but you will be amused throughout with some laughs here and there. Wilson and Mol have a pleasant chemistry that seems plausible for life beyond the film. Koechner displays Jay’s problems in a quirky style that only he can successfully pull off. The students successfully provide solid support for Wilson and co. Stan’s erotic poetry club is definitely a highlight of the film and Charlie’s handling of Robin is uncomfortable but humorous. The odd moments come when Charlie goes Sasquatch hunting with Jay, but they are minimal and show aspects of their friendship that make it very unique. Lastly, the telethon situation is bizarre, funny and slightly creepy all at once. It’s a good barometer of Charlie’s emotional state and gives a potentially lonely viewer a new idea for something to do when bored one evening.

Tenure will most likely not make it on any of your favorite lists, but you will not be disappointed by it. You’ll find yourself chuckling and oddly interested by a seemingly dull storyline.

    • trini
    • January 15th, 2012

    good movie. oh luke wilson, you hunk you

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