||In Good Company
2005 - PG-13 - 110 Mins.
|Director: Paul Weitz|
|Producer: Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz|
|Written By: Paul Weitz|
|Starring: Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, Selma Blair |
|Review by: Harrison Cheung
|Official Site: www.ingoodcompanymovie.com/|
‘In Good Company’ is what the big studios do best – a heartwarming romantic comedy with some smarts that has a finger on the pulse of the real world so that the audience can empathize.
Guess who's coming to dinner?
The time? It’s mergers and acquisitions time, and Dennis Quaid plays Dan, the VP of sales for a sports magazine. When mega corporation, Globecom, headed by a humorless CEO portrayed with terrifying gusto by Malcolm McDowell, acquires the publication, Dan gets a new boss, Carter, who is only 26 and squeakily-geekily played by Topher Grace (‘That 70s Show’).
Carter’s agenda is to increase the magazine’s advertising revenue by 20% and to reduce salary expenses with lay-offs. With a script taken right from the pages of today’s business headlines, Carter starts off tentatively and preaches “synergy” to boost the morale of the surviving staff. Though he’s a young corporate shark from Globecom, he actually has zero experience selling advertising so he taps Dan to be his “wing man.”
Dan, at the age of 51, has daughter Alex (Scarlett Johansson) starting at NYU, another daughter in high school and a baby on the way. Like 99% of working stiffs, he needs his job and after 23 years at the magazine, is more than a little resentful that his new boss is still wet behind the ears.
‘In Good Company’ is like the feel-good version of ‘Wall Street’ – greed isn’t necessarily good. Bigger isn’t necessarily better. And those young whippersnappers aren’t always smarter than the dinosaurs they’re so anxious to lay-off. You might remember Richard Gere’s character in ‘Pretty Woman’ – the corporate lawyer who headed up mergers and acquisitions only to be taught a few life lessons from the CEO of a company he was about to acquire. Same lessons here.
Dennis Quaid seems to be enjoying a career renaissance with a couple of broad, fun roles – including the recent ‘Flight of the Phoenix.’ As the father of teens and a corporate veteran, he brings a lot of maturity to his role of joyful father and loving husband – a man who has his priorities clear: family first.
In the dud, ‘Win a Date with Tad Hamilton,’ Topher Grace seemed to be playing a variation of his TV persona, Eric. Here, nattily dressed in sharp designer suits, he channels company wunderkid well. His best scenes are with Scarlett Johansson. His least convincing ones are some cold exchanges with Quaid, which include unpleasant conversations about lay-offs - it's just hard watching Grace being mean. The Carter character is the best-written one as he evolves from Donald Trump wannabe to someone who questions what he really wants to do with his life and his career.
Scarlett Johansson steals the show as the luminous Alex. As the 18-year-old daughter moving out on her own for college, she has to deal with an anxious father complicated by a problematic new boyfriend – none other than her dad’s boss, Carter!
Written and directed by Paul Weitz (‘American Pie,’ ‘About a Boy’), ‘In Good Company’ avoids mainstream mushy sentiment without losing sight of being entertaining. It’s a nice balancing act to pander without delivering too blatant an anti-mega-corporate message (though the fascist “fists” logo for Globecom is a nice touch!). This is the first Hollywood movie that gives downsizing a human perspective.