Diving deep into the minutiae of small-time tech business and ultimately resembling an elongated episode of “The Office,” were it stripped of humor and played for Scorsesean pathos, “Chasing the Green” is a decently directed, poorly scripted take on an extremely uninteresting story. Young helmer Russ Emanuel injects the material with more pizzazz than it deserves, and the cast make the most of paper-thin, unlikeable roles, but no one involved seems to have considered whether they were filming a tale worth telling. Pic opened April 17 in Los Angeles, with future engagements scheduled for New York and Texas.
The film, based on real events, is narrated by factotum and avid golfer Adam (Jeremy London), a college dropout languishing as a sandwich-shop manager, who decides to go into business with bullying brother Ross (Ryan Hurst).
The two start off as cell-phone service providers; when that field becomes too competitive, they switch their business to electronic terminals for credit-card transactions. They hire salesmen and secretaries, order new office supplies, celebrate solid quarter-to-quarter growth at the local bar and engage in all sorts of other managerial banalities that the film frames as rousing triumphs. A few years later, they come under fire from the Federal Trade Commission, which accuses them of unethical business practices. After a lengthy legal battle, the brothers are forced to sell the company.
It’s the type of story one might hear narrated by a tipsy traveling businessman at an airport bar; even though the tale, dull as it is, has all the elements of a rise-and-fall business narrative, the screenplay doesn’t allow for any real catharsis. It’s repeatedly implied (though never satisfactorily articulated) that the FTC acted unfairly in targeting such a small-fry company, although the brothers themselves come across as such petty, unimaginative grifters that it’s hard to feel sympathetic. All in all, it’s the saga of two not very interesting people, in a not very interesting business, brought low by garden-variety greed and bureaucratic meddling.
Aside from the film’s inherent structural flaws, director Emanuel hits all of his marks as well as can be expected. London is fine in the lead role, though he comes across more as lazy frat boy than scrappy bootstrapper, and his tangential romance with pool shark Lynn (Heather McComb) is far more engaging than the primary plot.