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Overall Rating

Awesome: 27.5%
Worth A Look55%
Average: 12.5%
Pretty Bad: 3.75%
Total Crap: 1.25%

8 reviews, 32 user ratings

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In Good Company
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by Lybarger

"Does to Corporate America what 'American Pie' did to pastries."
4 stars

Director Paul Weitz may have gained his initial recognition for "American Pie," which demonstrated that there were still bodily functions that hadn't been fully explored. Fortunately the movies he's helmed since then (with the possible exception of "Down to Earth") are often as observant as they are funny, and no desserts are soiled in the process.

In fact, much of the appeal of his first feature was that it was a courageous as it was crass. Few American movies had the guts to admit that novice sexual encounters could be terrifyingly frustrating. Because the humor came more his characters' futile struggle to maintain their dignity though impossible circumstances than through goo, he and his brother Chris (who doesn't share writing or directing credit on this one but does produce) have gone on to make sophisticated and rewarding flicks like "About a Boy" and their latest "In Good Company."

"In Good Company" is good-natured comedy that sneaks in some chilling comments about the current business climate. Weitz thankfully keeps the anti-corporate sermons to a minimum, but expertly captures a lot of what's going wrong in today's offices.

Dennis Quaid stars as Dan Foreman, a veteran ad salesman for a popular sports magazine, who quickly discovers that his two decades of service may be for naught.

His publishing company has just been bought by a corporate raider named Teddy K (an uncredited and eerily effective Malcolm McDowell). The new owner has little appreciation for the people who made the magazine an asset and quickly appoints his own team.

Nervous about how he and his crew could be potentially losing their gigs, Dan suffers a further indignity when he winds up being demoted for one of Teddy K's drones, a workaholic cel phone salesman named Carter Duryea (Topher Grace). Carter is a 26-year-old who knows nothing about the magazine business and comes storming in with a mandate to fatten the bottom line by both increasing ad sales and by trimming the labor force.

The latter worries Dan because he may have to fire salesmen he's handpicked and because his personal obligations prevent him from leaving the firm. His daughter Alex (Scarlett Johansson) is in college, and hidden expenses keep surfacing.

If work is making Dan a wreck, Carter's personal life makes the office seem cheery in comparison. His wife (Selma Blair) has tired of his ceaseless devotion to work. Even a new Porshe can't seem to make his caffeine-drenched life any more bearable. He doesn't win any points with Dan when he begins to take his frustrations to Alex.

Grace manages to imbue Carter with enough vulnerability to make him sympathetic even though his initial demands of his coworkers are far from reasonable. It's a pleasure waiting for him to discover his inner mensch.
Quaid, in turn, manages to make Dan seem principled but not saintly. While Dan's obviously a caring father and husband, his anxieties about his own mortality frequently drive his wife (Marg Helgenberger) and daughters crazy.

Weitz and his crew also bring in some subtle technical touches that put a viewer inside Dan or Carter's heads. There's a fun sequence where Weitz follows Carter as he tries out his new wheels. With some raucous music and quick editing, viewers feel the same rush he does.

What makes "In Good Company" memorable, though is the uncanny accuracy of Weitz's portrayal of the modern white-collar workplace. At times, the film reminded me of a couple of companies where I worked.

Like one of these offices, the new owner hampered a profitable business with expectations that have nothing to do with what made the business work in the first place. At another employer, we had a visit from our new CEO who made an empty speech not unlike the one Teddy K delivers in the movie. In both addresses, the alleged financial mastermind only succeeded in confusing and alienating his subordinates instead of motivating them.

"In Good Company" also captures the almost cult-like following some of these raiders like Teddy K attract. Their lackeys tend to be more excited about deal making or financial one-upmanship that with actually delivering something of value to a consumer. These followers, like an abrasive one played by Clark Gregg from "State and Main," spout the word "synergy" the way most people yell "Hallelujah!" in church.

Every now and then, Weitz has his characters going off in monologues that tell us what we've already seen. He usually gets more mileage out of Grace and Quaid's faces than he does out of these speeches.

Nonetheless, the film's hopeful conclusion thankfully mirrors one of the companies who used to employ me. Likewise, "In Good Company" allows viewers to witness the madness of the modern workplace without despairing about it.

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originally posted: 01/19/05 16:12:25
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User Comments

1/17/09 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 4 stars
9/09/07 R.W. Welch Low key send-up of corporate culture has its moments. B- 4 stars
4/18/07 yuko it was heart-warming 4 stars
11/16/06 David Pollastrini scarlett Johanson is hot! 3 stars
6/12/06 millersxing easy to like. especially with several unsung performances gracing the screen 4 stars
3/09/06 Dk Quirky and interesting 4 stars
11/27/05 Chele This movie was so awsome! 5 stars
8/28/05 tony It was good but it was very slow i did not enjoy most parts but there was some funnymoments 3 stars
7/28/05 Phil M. Aficionado Too far-fetched, so excellent casting/acting falls short. Some good moments 3 stars
7/16/05 Dan Good movie, with realistic aspects and acting. 4 stars
6/18/05 stage I have thought about the underlying principles a few times since seeing it 4 stars
5/27/05 The Mockingbird a business movie with a heart, a real heart, who would've thunk it, the actors are terrific 4 stars
5/10/05 brody more ass taste then the olive garden 1 stars
5/06/05 Helen Bradley All round excellent, great cast fast pace script has realy message 5 stars
5/05/05 Kristi Achilleos very nice movie! cool actors! overall i liked it 3 stars
4/20/05 Dan Pretty entertaining, but not great. 3 stars
4/15/05 Jeff Gilliland Entertaining, but not a masterpiece. Too trite. 3 stars
3/17/05 Eschenennock Manville Another sadning trubute to love as what happened to older generations but little chance now 2 stars
2/13/05 chris. not bad, but basically amounting to a normal guy's life-not interesting 3 stars
2/03/05 Jim The Movie Freak A Damn Near Perfect Movie With One Of 2004's Very Best Screenplays 5 stars
2/02/05 Uncle Phucker A good little film. Not as hardcore as The Apartment but has heart. 4 stars
2/01/05 Danita Berg makes me clad I don't work in corporate America 4 stars
2/01/05 John scarlett is hot and the two guys can act...oh yeah so can scarlett 4 stars
1/31/05 sully straight to the air lines, kind of movie 2 stars
1/30/05 Caroline Reminded me of "Funny Girl" in that we leave the romantic characters separate, but likeable 4 stars
1/29/05 HL You can tell a great movie if you wanna see it again...not! 3 stars
1/27/05 Steve Michaud Its strong character interaction and its stab at corporate America make this worthwhile 4 stars
1/26/05 bobbi very entertaining because acting excellant; however predictable, contrived plot 4 stars
1/21/05 kel held my interest, but ending was sad 3 stars
1/18/05 ajay all the elements were there, but something was missing.. the dialog felt dry at times. 3 stars
1/16/05 J. Singletary My husband wasn't thrilled we were going, but really enjoyed it 5 stars
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  29-Dec-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 10-May-2005



Directed by
  Paul Weitz

Written by
  Paul Weitz

  Dennis Quaid
  Topher Grace
  Scarlett Johansson
  Marg Helgenberger
  Selma Blair
  David Paymer

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