In Good Company

© 2005 Ray Wong

Part family drama, part corporate satire, part romantic comedy, and part buddy film, IN GOOD COMPANY is giving the marketing geniuses at Universal a hard time trying to peg it. Fortunately, for the audience, it provides a complex, not-too-predictable story that everyone over the age of 12 can enjoy.

Dan Foreman (Quaid), who is turning 52, is a family man with a beautiful wife and two lovely daughters. He’s also a veteran Advertising Sales Manager at Sports America magazine. When Globecom tycoon Teddy K. (McDowell) purchases Sports America, a corporate shakeup is to be expected. In comes hot shot Carter Duryea (Grace), a 26-year-old workaholic, to replace Dan and become his boss.

Suddenly out placed by a “boy” half his age, Dan has a hard time swallowing his pride. He knows he has to keep his job as his wife (Helgenberger) is expecting and his oldest daughter Alex (Johansson) transfers to NYU, one of the most expensive college in New York. Carter, on the other hand, knows he has much to learn from Dan. Carter is also going through a personal crisis when his wife (Blair) divorces him. Suddenly, he’s at a loss -- what is his life really about? To complicate matters, he falls head over heels with Alex, and they carry on a relationship behind Dan’s back.

Quaid (FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX) is in top form, giving one of his most nuanced and affecting performances. It’s really gratifying to see Quaid’s acting ability mature as he ages, and how his career takes off because of that. His portrayal of the grumpy, passive-aggressive “old-timer” is wonderful to watch. His characterization is layered yet subtle, and you believe in his likeable and genuine on-screen persona. Grace (WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON) has also matured into a fine young actor. He’s no Tobey MacGuire yet, but with his charming smiles and sincerity, he’s slowly catching up. His performance as the young executive lost in his own deception is heartfelt. Grace’s an actor to watch.

Johansson (A LOVE SONG FOR BOBBY LONG) always turns in good work, and her characterization of Alex is no exception. Perhaps not as good as in her other films (most notably LOST IN TRANSLATION), her Alex is beautiful and restrained, a little more mature than your neighborhood 18-year-old girls. She and Grace display good chemistry, but it’s her chemistry with Quaid that really shines.

The supporting cast all give outstanding performances. Paymer (ALEX & EMMA) is great as Dan’s mousy employee Morty. Gregg (THE HUMAN STAIN) is effectively obnoxious as ass-kissing corporate predator Steckle. Blair (HELLBOY) has a minor cameo as Carter’s bored wife, and Hall (BRUCE ALMIGHTY) is solid as disgruntled client Kalb.

Writer-director-producer Weitz (ABOUT A BOY) has given us a tight, touching story with believable characters and dialogue. The story is not about some out-of-the-world quests. It’s about the basics: family, jobs, education, mortgages. Life. Starting from the very first scene, Weitz has taken care of making everything real. We can all relate to family obligations, personal crisis, and corporate downsizing.

The film may lack award-winning finesse in flow, or style, or even plot. The sound track is effective, if not a little familiar. Its strongest point is the characters. There’s almost no false note, and everything about the characters and story feels real and believable. We can really relate and root for these people. The plot is not predictable, which is a very good thing. The bottom line is: this is a fun, entertaining, touching, feel-good film, in good company of corporate classics such as THE WORKING GIRL. What more could we ask for?

Stars: Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, Marg Helgenberger, David Paymer, Clark Gregg, Philip Baker Hall, Selma Blair, Malcolm McDowell
Director: Paul Weitz
Writer: Paul Weitz
Distributor: Universal
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, drug references and language

Script – 8
Performance – 8
Direction – 8
Cinematography – 7
Music/Sound– 7
Editing – 7
Production – 8

Total Score – 7.6 of 10

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