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Awesome: 27.5%
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8 reviews, 32 user ratings

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In Good Company
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by Laura Kyle

"Another film that gallantly sticks it to corporate America."
4 stars

Paul Weitz is one of those rare filmmakers who can turn the stuff of sitcoms into the stuff of great movies. He did this with American Pie and About a Boy. And now, with In Good Company, we have another film that could easily collapse under its premise. 51-year-old family man gets demoted; 26-year-old hotshot becomes his boss, and falls in love with his daughter. Plots like these, however predictable, are so amusing in their own right, they often replace good scripts, and sink or swim based on the talent of their actors alone. Fortunately, Weitz didn’t give in to the laziness a film like this permits.

A beginning scene intentionally gives away a major theme: when too much is given to a person early on, it’s bound to end up disastrous.

And so is the case with Carter Duryea (Topher Grace), a young guy with no experience in advertising, who is given the reigns at an ad sales department, based on his corporate street smarts and one good sales pitch: cell-phones designed like dinosaurs, to be marketed toward five to ten-year-olds. (It’s scary to consider that somewhere, someplace, someone in advertising is thinking, “Has that been patented yet?”)

The massive corporation Globecom (think any major corporation today) takes over a company where veteran ad exec Dan Foreman (a very bronzed Dennis Quaid) has worked for years, and promptly passes his job to one their own, Carter. A wave of lay-offs paves the way for new profits, and “synergy,” or a unified sales campaign spread out across different products, is the new strategy in town.

Carter is fully aware he’s in over his head, so he keeps Dan aboard, as his “wingman.” Dan reluctantly agrees, because with a wife and two daughters, he can hardly afford to lose his job. Immediately, Carter latches onto Dan, not only for his wisdom in advertising, but for companionship and ultimately, his family. Money and power aren't sufficient friends when you’re lonely.

Dan’s college-aged daughter Alex, played by Scarlett Johansson in one of her more forgettable roles, catches Carter’s eye and the “forbidden romance” which can be seen coming from a mile away, regrettably runs its course. This is probably the weakest link of In Good Company, because of its utter irrelevance and Johansson’s less-than-effective portrayal.

Luckily though, Weitz spends more time on the important things, and the Carter/Alex storyline, which seems to be scribbled in at best, is the only thing that sidetracks his film. Plus, Weitz still has that great sense of humor, which has charmed us in the past. Laughs last a long time—they aren’t easily killed when the scene changes, and that’s because they are built on sincere human emotion. (And there are lots of them.)

The parallelism between Dan, the middle-aged man who has everything that matters in life, and Carter, the kid who has everything that society tells him matters in life but nothing that really does, is so obvious, a third grader could write a paper on it. But that’s what’s so clever about Weitz – he has made something extremely accessible, without abandoning its depth and intelligence (he did the exact same thing in About a Boy).

In Good Company is a hopeful movie that takes advantage of the fact that it’s a movie; Weitz toys with timing, and convenient coincidences. And he certainly doesn’t shy away from poetic justice, blatant metaphors, or the indictment of corporate greed.

But whenever In Good Company threatens to lose its footing in the ideals (and plot devices) it wears on its sleeve, Weitz keeps our attention by grounding the film in ordinary characters and a less-than-glamorous depiction of corporate America. It’s a solid screenplay really, with plenty of “crowd-pleasing” moments, but not too many to undermine the film’s integrity as a conscious, relevant film.

It’s interesting how comparable Quaid and Grace are to the characters they play. An older, experienced actor who began his career in the 70’s, sharing equal screen space with a young up-and-comer who has only been in the biz for about six years. And the two are brilliant together. The back-story of a character is told in a performer’s eyes (notice how close-ups are used so effectively), not in the script, which is why the two leads here are deserving of tremendous accolades.

Carter and Dan’s mutual understanding of each other offset their inheritably contentious relationship, and make for a very touching story of father and son.

The Oscar contenders are gradually leaving the theatres, so be grateful for this one, because although it isn’t in good company (unless you really liked Fat Albert and White Noise), don’t be fooled, because it’s a great movie. If only Scarlett Johansson had been sliced out, or made to matter.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11369&reviewer=369
originally posted: 01/16/05 02:01:52
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User Comments

1/16/09 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 4 stars
9/08/07 R.W. Welch Low key send-up of corporate culture has its moments. B- 4 stars
4/17/07 yuko it was heart-warming 4 stars
11/16/06 David Pollastrini scarlett Johanson is hot! 3 stars
6/12/06 millersxing easy to like. especially with several unsung performances gracing the screen 4 stars
3/09/06 Dk Quirky and interesting 4 stars
11/26/05 Chele This movie was so awsome! 5 stars
8/28/05 tony It was good but it was very slow i did not enjoy most parts but there was some funnymoments 3 stars
7/28/05 Phil M. Aficionado Too far-fetched, so excellent casting/acting falls short. Some good moments 3 stars
7/15/05 Dan Good movie, with realistic aspects and acting. 4 stars
6/17/05 stage I have thought about the underlying principles a few times since seeing it 4 stars
5/27/05 The Mockingbird a business movie with a heart, a real heart, who would've thunk it, the actors are terrific 4 stars
5/09/05 brody more ass taste then the olive garden 1 stars
5/06/05 Helen Bradley All round excellent, great cast fast pace script has realy message 5 stars
5/05/05 Kristi Achilleos very nice movie! cool actors! overall i liked it 3 stars
4/20/05 Dan Pretty entertaining, but not great. 3 stars
4/15/05 Jeff Gilliland Entertaining, but not a masterpiece. Too trite. 3 stars
3/16/05 Eschenennock Manville Another sadning trubute to love as what happened to older generations but little chance now 2 stars
2/13/05 chris. not bad, but basically amounting to a normal guy's life-not interesting 3 stars
2/02/05 Jim The Movie Freak A Damn Near Perfect Movie With One Of 2004's Very Best Screenplays 5 stars
2/01/05 Uncle Phucker A good little film. Not as hardcore as The Apartment but has heart. 4 stars
1/31/05 Danita Berg makes me clad I don't work in corporate America 4 stars
1/31/05 John scarlett is hot and the two guys can act...oh yeah so can scarlett 4 stars
1/31/05 sully straight to the air lines, kind of movie 2 stars
1/29/05 Caroline Reminded me of "Funny Girl" in that we leave the romantic characters separate, but likeable 4 stars
1/28/05 HL You can tell a great movie if you wanna see it again...not! 3 stars
1/27/05 Steve Michaud Its strong character interaction and its stab at corporate America make this worthwhile 4 stars
1/26/05 bobbi very entertaining because acting excellant; however predictable, contrived plot 4 stars
1/20/05 kel held my interest, but ending was sad 3 stars
1/18/05 ajay all the elements were there, but something was missing.. the dialog felt dry at times. 3 stars
1/16/05 J. Singletary My husband wasn't thrilled we were going, but really enjoyed it 5 stars
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  29-Dec-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 10-May-2005



Directed by
  Paul Weitz

Written by
  Paul Weitz

  Dennis Quaid
  Topher Grace
  Scarlett Johansson
  Marg Helgenberger
  Selma Blair
  David Paymer

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