In creating ER
, writer-director John Wells launched the career of George Clooney, who starred in Up in the Air
, which could serve as a prequel to The Company Men
. When times get tough, Boston shipping conglomerate GTX sheds employees--while CEO James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson) retains his $22 million salary. HR director Sally Wilcox (Maria Bello), the companion of married cofounder Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones, the standout in a strong cast), fires sales manager Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) during the first round of cuts. Though Bobby's wife, Maggie (Mad Men
's Rosemarie DeWitt), doesn't think any less of him, her husband feels like a failure. She returns to work, while Bobby enters a job placement program, but he only meets with rejection. During the next round, Sally fires Gene and Phil (Chris Cooper). While the former has a financial cushion, Phil's situation mirrors Bobby's, except he's 23 years older, making the situation more difficult. When Maggie's brother, Jack (Kevin Costner), offers Bobby a construction job, he declines--until fate forces his hand. He soon comes to find that Salinger's way of running a business isn't the only way. His education reflects the filmmaker's concern about men who define themselves by their jobs, but an underlying message involves overly confident execs who fail to save for a rainy day. The Company Men
charts the path of those who fail to adapt to a changing landscape, and those who do, making for a film that's far more sobering than depressing. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
The story centers on a year in the life of three men trying to survive a round of corporate downsizing at a major company - and how that affects them, their families, and their communities. When the GTX Corporation must cut jobs to improve the company's balance sheet during the 2010 recession, thousands of employees will take the hit, like Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck). Bobby learns the real life consequences of not having a job. Not only does he see a change to his family lifestyle, and the loss of his home, but also his feelings of self-worth.