|In Good Company |
Actors: Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, Marg Helgenberger, David Paymer
Director: Paul Weitz
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Nowadays it's rare to find a movie that pays attention to human weakness as well as strength, and that sees a whole person as having both. When a sports magazine gets bought by a media conglomerate, an ad sales executive n... more »
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K. K. (GAMER)
Reviewed on 12/20/2018...
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PLEASANT FILM WITH GREAT PERFORMANCES ALL AROUND
Jeff Howard | South Dakota | 01/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you've seen the preview you already know this movie is about Dennis Quaid's company being taken over by a larger corporation. Quaid's ad division is then assigned Topher Grace as the new boss and Quaid is demoted. The characters are thoroughly explored and milked for plenty of laughs. This is a smart comedy that does not rely on bathroom humor to pull it's weight. There is nothing offensive here. You could take your grandmother and not blush one time.
The interaction between Quaid and Grace is wonderful. Grace almost immediately begins to admire his older underling, Quaid, and look to him as the father he never had and always wanted. During the interoffice scenes, Grace becomes enamored with Quaid's daughter, Scarlet Johansen. She too is wonderful in this role.
The only them not explored is the trust issue between father and daughter. They make much of it on the surface, but never once do Scarlet and Grace discuss keeping their relationship a secret from Quaid. Which of course is a major turning point in the film.
You really can't beat this movie for intelligent comedy."
An Intelligent, Entertaining Comedy - Well Worth Watching!
Jana L. Perskie | New York, NY USA | 07/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""In Good Company" is definitely good comedy and makes for terrific entertainment! Contemporary big business practices are satirized here Big Time! Written and directed by Paul Weitz, this is a film with a fluid storyline interwoven with some poignant threads about how we set our priorities and choose to live our lives. Not corny or too sentimental, the top-notch cast and good acting only increase the viewers' pleasure. Dennis Quaid is fabulous here, as is Topher Grace, his young nemesis. What more could one desire in a movie for a fun evening - except some hot popcorn?
Dan Foreman, (Dennis Quaid), is the successful Director of Marketing for Sports America Magazine. He actually likes his work, which is good, since he is a twenty-five year veteran of the ad industry. Dan is a fifty-something family man, married to forty-ish Anne Foreman, (stunning Marg Helgenberger from TV's CSI), who, we learn early on, is pregnant - a pre-menopausal surprise! It's OK, they're thrilled about the upcoming event! Daughter Alex, (Scarlett Johansson), an eighteen year-old college student, and her slightly younger sister Jana, (Zena Gray), really make-up the kind of warm, loving family anyone would want to belong to. These are decent, intelligent, normal people, who all seem to possess a sense of humor - some quirkier than others.
Carter Duryea, (Topher Grace), is a 26 year-old marketing wiz for GlobeCom, a multinational corporate conglomerate, owned and run by a Rupert Murdoch-like figure, "Teddy K," (Malcolm McDowell). Carter has frequently impressed his colleagues and managers with his creativity. His latest success, a cell phone ad campaign which targets preschoolers with dinosaur multi-colored mini phones, that roar instead of ring, has put smiles on GlobeCom employees' faces. Carter is driven, smart, smug and filled with energy fueled by lots of caffeine. He chugs down cup after cup of Starbucks' best. His marriage to a shallow, spoiled, deb type is definitely on the wane. Maybe he should spend more time at home, less at work. But then he wouldn't be GlobeCom's golden boy.
When GlobeCom acquires Sports America Magazine, young Turk Carter Duryea is promoted to head of ad sales. Guess whose position he usurps? At least Dan still has a job - as Carter's assistant - his "wing man!" Carter moves into Dan's corner office. Believe it or not, there are worse nightmares. Corporate acquisitions and mergers frequently trigger downsizing and lay-offs. Dan's entire sales team and many other Sports America employees are fired. Meanwhile, Dan's emotions run the gamut from rage to disbelief. And Carter doesn't know too much about magazine sales. He does talk a lot about "synergy," however - a popular buzz word around GlobeCom. In a rousing speech to his new "team," he asks them if they are "psyched for an awesome quarter." Although nobody seems to understand what this all means, they are eager to suck-up to the new boss, so they nod their heads in agreement.
"Synergy" we are informed by Teddy K., "means the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The relationship which the parts have to each other is a part in and of itself - the most empowering, unifying and exciting part." Carter comes to learn what Dan knows from Day 1 - "synergy" does not sell ads!
Weitz has structured his film in such a way that as we observe the parallel lives of Foreman and Duryea, we do not villanize the aggressive, yuppie brat. In fact, the further we move into the story, the more sympathetic both Carter and Dan become as characters. Dan may be depressed, humiliated and frustrated about his demotion, but trust me when I say that Carter's life is not the proverbial "bowl of cherries!" The juxtaposition of scenes contrasting the two men's worlds is truly effective. In one instance Dan signs papers taking out a second mortgage to pay for Alex's transfer to NYU, plus the expenses a new baby will incur - while Carter signs his divorce papers and buys a top-of-the-line Porsche. Dan's contented family life, along with his temporary financial difficulties are far removed from the financially secure but very lonely and isolated situation young Carter experiences.
Dan invites Carter to dinner after a long business meeting - not through hospitality, but by accident. He never expects Carter to accept. Carter and Dan's daughter Alex click, subtly enough that both parents are unaware. Carter finds in Alex a person he can talk to with honestly, without pretension. Alex experiences similar feelings. The situation really becomes weird when the two begin a relationship, while, at the same time, Dan and Carter's relationship improves - in many ways resembling a father-son situation, even when things turn violent. The dynamic between the two businessmen continually shifts, as do those between Alex and her father, Alex and Carter, Dan and Anne, etc.. There are enough wily twists and turns in the plot to keep things lively throughout. Nothing sappy or contrived here!
This is an intelligent film well worth watching. I recommend it highly.
Grim yet hopeful
avoraciousreader | Somewhere in the Space Time Continuum | 08/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This review is partly in response to the review "Pleasant while you're seeing it, but eminently forgettable." My reaction is the opposite: eminently memorable in spite of minor flaws.
The film deals with a subject of recent and continuing importance (though not quite as trendy as "outsourcing"), the reckless transactions of megacorporations and consequent downsizing as the last dollar of immediate profit is squeezed out of purchased or merged enterprises. The related issue of displacement of older workers by young, energetic, cheaper ones also plays a part. The film is not just an economic essay, though, and the effects of the corporate manipulations on individual lives are its focus.
Dan (Dennis Quaid) is the 51 year old head of advertising sales for the magazine Sports America. When it is bought by the GlobalCom empire (headed by flimflamming guru "Teddy K") whizkid Carter (Topher Grace) is brought in to take over his department, and rounds of layoffs ensue amid a drive for enhanced sales and profits. Dan is not having the best year of his life .. in addition to demotion and uncertainty at work, his college student daughter Alex (Scarlett Johansson), always the trusted buddy, becomes withdrawn and transfers from her local school to NYU (think, big money). His wife is unexpectedly pregnant, and between the two he must remortgage his house. Carter also has a rough time .. he doesn't relish the harsh realities of firing people; he buys a new Porsche, and wrecks it on the way out of the dealer's lot; his wife walks out on him. Then through several chance meetings, he finds himself able to talk openly and honestly to Alex (with that patented Johansson stare), eventually turning into a loving relationship which continues behind Dan's back.
Quaid's portrayal of Dan is workmanlike and solid. Johansson's Alex is well played and mature. There are a number of other very nicely done supporting roles (especially non-20-somethings). But even though I'm an old geezer who I'm sure the demographic beancounters at GlobalCom would expect to focus on Quaid's performance/character, it is Topher Grace's Carter which really makes the film work for me and sets it apart from a simple "bad guys / good guys" dichotomy. The character is well written and Grace excellent in the part, as he evolves from a self-involved, clever adolescent to a feeling, adult person who realizes his actions have consequences. Carter's almost dazed reaction to the events, good and bad, in his life is convincingly portrayed by Grace as that of a naturally withdrawn, thoughtful young man seduced by glitter and success, but having second thoughts. However, the backstory could have shown some of the ruthlessness (or at least disregard of others) that must have been necessary to get him the shot at this job, beyond cute tyrannosaur kiddie phones. It's hard to believe he could have been successful in such a cutthroat outfit as GlobalCom without some hard edge, which at least on first viewing I did not detect.
In contrast to the previous reviewer, this is a film that I think will stick in my mind for a long time, and which I plan to watch again soon.
A couple of quibbles:
-- the scene where Carter and Alex are playing tennis, rallying, and she is standing in the center of the court eating an apple while running him from side to side. This is supposed to indicate how much better she is than he, but actually shows the reverse -- any tyro can scatter the ball hither and yon (though admittedly she seems to be doing so in a well directed way, with malicious intent) but it takes considerable skill to consistently hit balls directly to someone so they don't need to move, especially when hitting on the run. Cute idea, but not realistic.)
-- In the relationship between Carter and Alex, once they start dating they don't seem to talk anymore, in particular about how it effects their individual relations with Dan. Telling him is never brought up."