on 28 November 2005
“In Good Company” is a thoroughly nice film. It has a nice plot, a nice storyline, a cast full of nice guys and a nice ending. It’s never going to set the film world on fire but it’s a professionally made and totally pleasant film that should be well and truly enjoyed.
Dan Foreman is a steady family man who juggles the responsibilities of home and work with the skill of a circus performer. He’s liked and respected by his colleagues at the advertising sales of a sports magazine and loved and adored by his wife and two daughters. Life is good until two huge bombshells descend on him within hours. Firstly he discovers that his wife is pregnant and at 51 he’s naturally worried that he’s too old to be a dad again. Secondly the company he works for is taken over by a huge global corporation and shock horror, a young wizz kid has been placed above him.
Carter Duryea is the 26 year old executive who’s been groomed for big things within the corporation. For all his management speak verbal diarrhoea he’s really a nervous young man, unsure of how to deal with the new team he’s just taken command of. To round off Carter’s problems he wife of only 7 months leaves him, leaving him alone and more than a little forlorn in the strange town. He forces himself an invitation to Dan’s home for dinner and it’s there than he meets and falls for Dan’s beautiful daughter Alex. How will Dan be able to cope with the idea of his younger boss also loving his daughter?
Dennis Quaid is perfect for this sort of role, as Dan he’s fills the part with an authoritarian fatherly figure than is not only totally believable but absolutely convincing. Topher Grace puts in a good turn as Carter but it’s Scarlett Johansson that comes out of their coupling with the most plaudits. Her beauty goes without saying but she has a scene presence that goes beyond mere good looks and makes for a most captivating performance.
I really enjoyed the film, especially the ending which whilst not totally unpredictable certainly didn’t serve up the “happy” ending you might expect.
on 30 July 2005
"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.
In Good Company is a well-made, entertaining film that reveals the soullessness of our modern "Who Moved My Cheese?" society. Companies are bought and sold like common chattel, dedicated workers are sacrificed to the cash cow of corporatism, business leaders make hundreds of millions of dollars by uttering meaningless catch phrases and big words while proving themselves quite oblivious to the concept of actually serving their customers (or their employees), and the depersonalization of the business world leads to corporate scandals and broken lives. In this film, the old school meets the new school; it's not always pretty, but it is entertaining - and educational.
Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) has it pretty good; he's got a great wife and two teenaged daughters, he makes a good living doing something he enjoys - overseeing the ad sales for Sports America magazine, and he's happy in his quiet, stable life. Then, change crashes down upon him in wave upon wave. He learns that his wife is pregnant (which is the last thing he expected at their age), Sports America is sold to a big conglomerate, he's replaced by some college kid know-it-all, and his eldest daughter wants to transfer to NYU (second mortgage, here we come). At least he does get to keep his job - he's just reporting to young Carter Duryea (Topher Grace), who has zero years experience compared to his twenty-three years in the position he just lost. As he watches long-time clients disappear and good employees that he hired lose their jobs, he thinks things can't get much worse - and then he finds out that his daughter is sleeping with his young boss. One can understand why he gets a little grumpy at times.
Carter is an interesting character, and I must say Topher Grace acquits himself quite well in the role. Initially, he is just annoyingly gung ho about business and his bright and shiny future - in a word, he is one of the mindless zombies inspired by business moguls such as Teddy K (Malcolm McDowell). It's synergy this, synergy that, teamwork, blah blah blah - we've all heard that new brand of corporate nonsense. It would be easy to dislike such a character (and Dan certainly does dislike him - at first). We examine Carter's life in juxtaposition to that of Dan, though, and we see the human being behind the suit. His wife has left him after seven months, and he's so lonely that he boondoggles Dan into inviting him home for dinner. There he renews an earlier brief acquaintance with Dan's daughter Alex (Scarlett Johansson), and that lays the foundation for their blooming relationship - which is kept hush hush from Dan, of course. Dads have a way of finding out their daughters' little secrets, though.
It is most interesting to watch the relationship between Dan and Carter develop as the film proceeds. You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but that doesn't mean that old dog doesn't have a few things to teach the pups, and Carter begins to understand that - just as he begins to see his fellow suits in a new light after Teddy K himself pays the company a visit. As for Dan, he comes to see the deficiencies in Carter's life, and a weird kind of father-son relationship eventually emerges as Carter begins to change. The ending is somewhat ambiguous, but so is life itself.
This is a very human film on all counts. It has its funny moments, but I would not really consider this a comedy in the traditional sense. It's a story about life, an intelligent film that proceeds with a sense of honesty and believability that is rare in movies these days. It does tend to skewer modern business practices (and rightly so), reinforcing the traditional values that built the great economic engine that today's business fatcats are exploiting for their own personal gain. I would hope that some of the real-life equivalents of Teddy K would watch this film, but they are all too blinded by their egos to learn anything from it, anyway.
As you drive off to the 9 to 5 in your company Lexus, consider how secure is your grip on that corner office with a view.
At age 52, Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) is the veteran, successful, and respected advertising manager for a national sports magazine. Life is good. Sure, there are speed bumps: his late-forties wife, Ann (Marg Helgenberger) suddenly announces she's pregnant with their third child, and his eldest daughter, Alex (Scarlett Johansson), is off to live in the Big Apple and attend NYU. But, a second mortgage will take care of all this. Then, the publication is bought by a corporate takeover shark, and Dan's office and position are hijacked by Carter Duryea (Topher Grace), an upstart executive literally half Foreman's age. Though not fired himself, Dan is relegated to being Carter's "wingman", and must watch as other members of his old team are axed. Oh, and did I mention that Carter is seduced by Alex and lands in her bed?
Perhaps Duryea should have been scripted to be, in the eyes of the audience, more callow and unredeemably meaner. At first, it appears that this may be the case. But, after Carter's brand new Porsche sports car is crunched by an SUV as he drives off the dealer's lot, he acquires a conscience, sensitivity, and the viewers' sympathy. Thus, the ending, during which balance at the office is restored, seemed oddly unsatisfying and open-ended.
The best reasons to see IN GOOD COMPANY are Quaid, Johansson, and Grace, all of whose characters are basically decent and incredibly engaging. None of the obvious tensions result in irretrievably rancorous conflict between the three, and so the film becomes primarily a comedy with dramatic overtones rather than a drama with comedic elements.
IN GOOD COMPANY is a 4-star piece of inoffensive fluff perfectly suitable for viewing by the whole family - eminently watchable and enjoyable, but not memorable.
This has to be my surprise find of 2004! How many recent films have stood for something fundamental and still managed to be heart-warming and funny without being schticky? Let's count them on an amputee's fingers.
The main thrust of In Good Company is to sketch the lives of people caught in the throes of capricious M&As but it offers an accurate glimpse into modern office environments -- motivating co-workers, intra-office hostilities, nepotism and favoritism, and so forth -- much of which is handled with uncanny weight.
The movie is not without it lighter moments though, every mention of harebrained co-branding strategies or of platitudes like "synergy" had me grinning and cringing at the same time.
While the film's ultimate resolutions are too feel-good for its own good, it couches a great deal of sensitivity for its characters. We readily relate to the folks in the company. The flurry of indiscrimate downsizing is not easy to watch, nor is the apprehension thereof.
On the family front, father-daughter relationships are well played out. Dennis Quaid in his bipolar role of experience and naivete guns for the Jack Nicholesque and nearly gets there.
But no question, the show belongs to the youngsters. Scarlett Johansson continues in the same understated confident streak as Lost in Translation. Her chemistry with Topher Grace feels very natural, who by the way has to be among the most promising young actors around. His versatile performance hits just the right notes in both measured humor and complex poise. That we're able to feel for his whippersnapper character at all is evidence enough.
For its assured near-noirish tone or the soft rock on its soundtrack that captures two ends of the generational spectrum, I'd say this film would make for an exquisite evening rental. You won't be disappointed.
Dennis Quaid is a veteran adman, Scarlett Johansson is his daughter, and Topher Grace is his new boss - and her new boyfriend.
Complications ensue, but not the ones you might expect, in a sophisticated, well-played and surprisingly subtle comedy from American Pie director Paul Weitz.
on 23 January 2013
Being fans of Dennis Quaid we decided to buy this DVD because it was not available in blu ray. Still managed to get a great picture and sound. Nice easy to watch family movie with a great cast and really good value for money.
on 29 December 2006
I don't want to re-tread the ground covered already and very well by other reviewers of this film but I should like to say that apart from excellently played leads by Dennis Quaid (in my opinion this performance is the best he has ever given in any film he has made), Topher Grace and the sure-footed Scarlett Johansson, it is a pleasure to watch some superb support acting from the prolific David Paymer (Matt Warner in 'School of Life'), Eugene Kalb (Jimmy Gator in 'Magnolia') and best of all, Clark Gregg (FBI Special Agent Michael Casper in 'West Wing').
Rarely do you find a film so good yet so overlooked as this well-crafted tale of ordinary and recognizable human beings caught in the cross-fire of an inhuman hire-and-fire corporate battleground. Worth an evening of anyone's time.
Until half way through I was laughing out loud. All the principals are well acted and funny. The Grace character is weird, and in a way the whole film revolves around him and I am thinking how the hell are they going to bring this movie to a conclusion in a way that is honest to these characters.
Well the answer is, they don't. Grace and Quaid's daughter start a relationship with zero examination of what that will mean for Quaid who has effectively been professionally leapfrogged by Grace. Quaid then becomes a Hollywood numskull and socks Grace one and then becomes a Hollywood hero in the board room and everyone goes what a hero with no examination of complexities.
on 4 May 2014
In the world of selling things - and if you get old it's even worse. However the old guys have a trick or two up their sleeves and the newbie learns some important lessons - good fun.