Company Man Movie Review

I have to admit something before I write this review. I am a die-hard conspiracy nut who loves the outrageous claims of betrayals and back-stabbing that the CIA and other governmental agencies have been dealing out like drunken blackjack dealers at Circus Circus for the past 40 years. The only problem is that people like Oliver Stone, Chris Carter, and Christopher Hitchens have basically ripped apart all the really good conspiracy theories already.

What we really need is a satire of those good conspiracies from the 1960s. With that in mind, Company Man, a brazen new comedy by Douglas McGrath and Peter Askin, supplies that swift kick in the confidential files of the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, and even the Boy Scouts. It's a quick-witted, grammatically correct, and often hilarious satire aimed dead center at the conspiracy nutcases and their shining theories.

Meet Allen Quimp (Douglas McGrath), a high school grammar teacher/international spy who knows the difference between 'who' and 'whom' and its correct usage in a sentence. During a congressional hearing regarding the CIA's involvement in the Bay of Pigs invasion in the 1960s, Quimp recalls the CIA's attempts in overthrowing Fidel Castro by himself and a variety of characters working for the CIA.

Quimp's story begins when he lies to his nagging, socialite wife Daisy (Sigourney Weaver) about a phoney position at the CIA as an international spy so she'll leave him alone to write his masterpiece, The Grammar Crisis in the English Speaking World. Word of Quimp's secret life quickly spreads via Daisy's gossip, and soon he's famous in the underground. Befuddled and bewildered, Quimp accidentally helps a Russian ballet dancer (Ryan Phillippe) defect to the U.S., whereupon the CIA really recruits Quimp into their ranks, dumping him into Cuba to subdue the Communist uprising led by Fidel Castro (Anthony LaPaglia). Working with a lunatic bunch of CIA cohorts, Quimp attempts to overthrow Castro himself and stop the revolution.

I just don't understand how the Bay of Pigs invasion could have been re-tooled as the basis for a comedy vehicle and be successful.

Company Man is funny. Damn funny. The film draws inspiration from the great Woody Allen comedies of the sixties and seventies - Sleeper, Bananas, What's Up, Tiger Lily? -- and watching it, I was reminded of another wonderfully absurd spy movie, The In-Laws.

McGrath, looking like a cross between Kevin Spacey and Matthew Broderick, does an amazing job in all departments of co-writing, co-directing, and acting. Using actual conspiracy theories of how the CIA tried to overthrow Castro, McGrath and Peter Askin have written a deft and clever script. Combined with an amazing ensemble cast of Woody Allen, Anthony LaPaglia, Ryan Phillippe, Denis Leary, Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro, Alan Cumming, and Jeffery Jones, the film burns bright in its spare 90 minutes.

Company Man is clever, quick, over-the-top, and filled with memorable comedic moments. It's only a shame that most American audiences will probably miss the boat on this one small gem.

Made Man.

Comments

Company Man Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG-13, 2001

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