In Good Company Review
Real life cinema, a small genre. Take a dash of comedy, a pinch of romance, a slice of real life and a smidgen of plot; stew for a while and serve in a two hour portion and hope the bittersweet taste is just right for your audience to swallow. If any of the ingredients are off, you fail before you start, too much of one and you fail at the end; it a hard pie to produce but when served correctly very satisfying. Bringing us to tonight's menu, “In Good Company”, the Weitz brothers' first collaboration and a potion of real life cinema.
Dan foreman (Dennis Quaid) leads a successful sales team selling ad space in Sports America magazine. Having worked for the company for some sixteen years he's seen many things change, but his faith in the product has never wavered and his commitment to the team and the magazine are without question. So, at fifty two, when things beyond his control start to change in his life, Foreman has to either change along with them or buck the trend and be his own man, else he'll be left out in the cold. First and foremost, with his teenage daughters growing up and dating, Alex (Scarlett Johansson), his eldest, is off to New York College (for which he has to take out a second mortgage), Ann (Marg Helgenberger), his wife, finds out she is pregnant and finally the company that owns Sports America is bought out by a corporate headed by the enigmatic Teddy K (an un-credited Malcolm McDowell). This means Dan is demoted and working for a boss, Carter Duryea (Topher Grace) half his own age. Duryea, himself, is a workaholic, part of a new bread of sales executives honed in the corporate environment; he knows little or nothing about selling ad space but is dynamic and energetic and placed in a position of power with strict management rules, all the while fighting his desperate loneliness and failing marriage. With Alex, just starting out in life, the world is full of opportunities, a natural athlete, skilled at tennis, she nevertheless follows her heart to take up creative writing at a prestigious college, in the process becoming street smart and bedding Duryea on the rebound from his divorce. We follow these three main characters through a slice of their lives each learning a little from the other in a tail of corporate takeovers, replacing the elderly and starting afresh; with little interjections of comedy that make up real life.
I found In Good Company an odd little ditty, it meanders along at a steady pace, raising a smile or two here and there with complex character developments and some very touching moments and some genuinely sad ones. Each and every actor plays to their strengths, they are all uniformly good; the situations they find themselves in are quite believable and their reactions equally so. I also liked the various points of juxtaposition; Foreman's growing family against Duryea's falling apart one; Foreman's spending for a new child against Duryea's spending for a new relationship; and overall the corporate expansion against the loss of employees. From a person that grew up through the 'Maggie years' this type of expansion really hits home and the people it produced were among the most repugnant. It is gratifying to watch Duryea's gradual conversion and his boss' ultimate demise, too bad real life ain't so happy. Along with the wonderful score and terrific characters, In Good Company has much going for it, yet in the end I felt it was all rather plain, much like this entire DVD, I could either take it or leave it.