Two very fine hours spent ‘In Good Company’
If you’ve ever tried to climb the company ladder, been upstaged by a snotty upstart, wondered if your best career days were behind you, or struggled to maintain a close relationship with your college-age kids, here’s a movie that will touch all those bases.
And if by chance ALL of those sentiments describe you, then “In Good Company” might be the most personal and affecting movie you will see in a long time.
Director Paul Weitz demonstrated skilled, understated ways with relationships in 2002’s “About a Boy,” and though on different turf here (and directing solo, without his brother this time), his keen eye rarely strays.
Dennis Quaid certainly provides a solid foundation as 51-year-old Dan Foreman, a veteran ad sales executive for the fictional magazine “Sports America” who gets replaced by young and hungry Carter Duryea (Topher Grace) as part of corporate takeover.
Quaid ably handles the gamut of emotions here — he’s not happy about the demotion, and he sees through the fluffy new corporate mantras, but he still loves his job because he understands his customers. At home, Foreman is an affable, caring father — a nice change from the father figures so prominent in the movies and TV today who are usually portrayed as dumb, nerdy or abusive.
Foreman is giddy about becoming a father again with his wife (Marg Helgenberger), but is also concerned about sending daughter Alex (Scarlett Johansson) away to school at NYU. Many of their moments together are authentically tender and enviable — it’s a good sign when a film nudges you to be a better parent.
Trouble brews when newly divorced Carter — now the 26-year-old boss — begins a surreptitious relationship with Alex (who could resist those lips?!). Grace (TV’s “That 70’s Show,” “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton”) has a genuine lovable charm and a unique knack for superb comic timing. He’s a bit of a cross between early Adam Sandler and David Spade — but more raw talent, charm and good looks than either of them. The sky’s the limit for this kid.
Admirably, the film takes some risks. The leads never fall into caricature, and most of its message about corporate downsizing hits a bull’s eye. Those who have worked in the corporate world will recognize the players even if the faces are different. Special kudos for casting Johansson and for playing to her strengths: She’s self assured, honest, and loyal — but her own woman nonetheless.
It wouldn’t be appropriate to call “In Good Company” edgy. It certainly isn’t offensive or overtly provocative. But a film this touching, funny, poignant and utterly decent certainly qualifies as groundbreaking these days.
Rated PG-13 for Sexual content, drug references.