On the Scranton-set series The Office, Jenna Fischer's Pam is a sea of calm amid a whole lot of craziness. In The Giant Mechanical Man (2012, New Video, PG-13, $28), Fischer's latest new-to-DVD film, she plays Janice, a quiet, introvert not too far removed from her Office alter ego.
The characters share an integrity and a penchant for witty, adorable guys (John Krasinski on The Office, Chris Messina in the movie). But there are differences too.
Unlike Pam, Janice is going through a really bad patch. Late for her latest temp job in a museum, she is fired by her agency and is eventually forced to give up her tiny apartment. Soon she's living with her overbearing sister (Malin Akerman) and her sister's husband (Mad Men's Rich Sommer). Both think they know what's best for Janice, and that includes forcing her to date a hilariously self-involved author (Topher Grace).
Lucky for Janice, true love is waiting for her at her next job, where a struggling street performer named Tim (Messina) is toiling. The pair's scenes together at the run-down zoo where they work are delightful and surprisingly romantic.
Writer/director Lee Kirk (Fischer's husband) treats Akerman's, Sommer's and Grace's characters a smidge too harshly. They're one-note when they should be three-dimensional. Still, that's a small flaw. The Giant Mechanical Man is a delicate love story with yet another terrific Fischer performance.
Amy Longsdorf writes about DVD and Blu-Ray releases with local connections.