In Good Company

"OK"

In Good Company Review


It's one of those nightmare scenarios of which feel-good stories are made: Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid), middle-aged family man and top sales guy at a big, Sports Illustrated-like magazine, gets thrown for a loop when his company is bought and he gets demoted to make room for Carter Duryea (Topher Grace), some whiz kid half his age. Oh, and his daughter wants to transfer from SUNY to the much more expensive NYU. Oh, and that night when he gets home, his wife tells him she's pregnant. At first it seems that In Good Company is not going to go for the feel-good resolution in which lessons are learned, lives are improved, and everybody fades into a happy sunset... but then it does, and it's hard not to feel cheated.

Whatever else may be said, this film is the work of consummate professionals, and that doesn't mean it's soulless but competent hackwork. Writer/director Paul Weitz showed with his wonderful, glowing adaptation of Nick Hornby's About a Boy that he could tell heartwarming stories that didn't insult the mind and could inject just enough acidity into a romance to keep a movie from flopping into a messy, Love, Actually-style mess. The directing and writing here are superbly crisp, and one really couldn't ask for better performances, both from the stars and supporting cast.

As the two men butting heads at the film's center, Quaid and Grace are effortless in their roles, with Quaid somehow making Dan, that most overdone stereotype - the embattled father and wage-earner who longs for his daughter to stay a little girl forever - a uniquely affecting creation, while Grace locates the lonely, desperate-for-attention soul in Carter's impatient, 26-year-old corporate ladder climber and makes you practically yearn for his happiness. A nice twist in the story backdrops Carter's ascension at the office over Dan with a role reversal at home: Dan has a loving family, friends, and a new baby on the way, while Carter's wife of seven months (Selma Blair, in a too-short and wickedly hilarious cameo) has just divorced him, so he's taken to inviting himself over to Dan's house simply to feel some human warmth. (One could have made a whole farce simply out of showing this man dealing with the humiliation of working for this baby-faced tyro, who insists on saying "psyched" and "awesome.") Completing this triangle of fine performers is the always valuable Scarlett Johansson, playing Dan's daughter Alex, who completes her father's symbolic emasculation by starting an affair with Carter. Sure, most of what we see in their relationship involves walking along picturesque Greenwich Village streets while mellow pop tunes play, but it's a welcome respite from the mildly dull corporate skullduggery going on back at the office.

As adept as he is with his actors, though, Weitz's script isn't always up to the task, especially as it draws to a close. The first two-thirds of the film tick along quite superbly, with Dan quietly suffering Carter's callowness at the office but still developing a fatherly affection for the kid, still unaware of his affair with Alex. But when the relationship is finally exposed and after Alex, Dan, and Carter are forced into an emotionally bruising confrontation, the film doesn't seem to know where to go. First, it's back to the office for some corporate synergy shenanigans involving the corporate boss who bought the magazine in the first place (Malcolm McDowell, playing a sort of gleefully satanic cross between Richard Branson and Barry Diller) and a clunky rant that appears to be against globalization - or something. Then Dan and Carter have to team up for One Big Sell, which might have made for a dramatic, albeit predictable closer, if Weitz didn't treat it so perfunctorily, as though he were saying, "I know this is what the audience wants here, so I'll give it to them, but that doesn't mean I have to like it."

There's a fantastic movie buried somewhere in here, and maybe Cameron Crowe or James L. Brooks could have pulled it out, given the thing a dash of pop poetry, and sent everyone home happy. As it is, In Good Company is pleasant enough company for a couple of hours, but it's difficult not to feel that all the hard work on display here by Quaid, Grace, Johansson, and others is more than a little wasted.

Commentary track and deleted scenes are the highlight of the film's DVD.

I've got good news and bad news...



In Good Company

Facts and Figures

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th January 2005

Box Office USA: $45.5M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Depth of Field

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 138 Rotten: 29

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , , , Rodney M. Liber

Starring: as Carter Duryea, as Alex Foreman, as Dan Foreman, as Ann Foreman, as Morty, as Mark Steckle, as Eugene Kalb, as Lou, as Kimberly, as Corwin, as Enrique Colon, as Alicia, as Hector

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.