In Good Company

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In Good Company
Review (9/10)
(By Erin Cullin)

Once upon a time, people would land their first post-graduation job and would stay in that job until they retired. Mergers, corporate downsizing and layoffs were not words that appeared in people's vocabularies. A pat on the back and a handshake could be relied upon to seal a deal. Sure, people didn't always love what they were doing, but they were happy to be working, to be providing for their families and to be part of a larger "corporate culture" that they felt was concerned about their interests. They were loyal to their companies and, in turn, their companies were loyal to them.

That was yesterday. Today, we live in a very different world.

Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid), is an advertising executive with a large publishing company and a man who, "has it all". He has a beautiful wife (Marg Helgenberger), who stays at home and who takes care of his gorgeous house. He has three lovely daughters. He has many friends. He has just turned 51 and he appears to be gliding into retirement. Life is going as planned and he could not be happier. Until the realities of modern life come knocking on his door.

Carter Duryea (Topher Grace), is a young executive with a large conglomerate that is known for its "slash and burn" approach to the companies with which it merges. His cold and distant "trophy wife" has just left him. He has no connection to his family. He has no friends. All he does is work. But his career is going well, he has a nice house and a nice car and to the outside world he has the perfect life. At least he thinks so, until he catches a glimpse into Foreman's life and realizes that he has nothing.

In Good Company is the story about the relationship between Dan Foreman and Carter Duryea, two men who find themselves brought together when Duryea's company merges with Foreman's company. Foreman is demoted and the much-younger Duryea replaces him. In the end, Duryea learns about himself and his priorities as a result of his pseudo-paternal relationship with Foreman. Foreman learns not to take the everyday miracles in his life for granted. It is a morality tale about the "downside" of modern life.

I enjoyed In Good Company and, in fact, I felt that it was one of the better movies that I have seen this year. I enjoyed the movie's message and I related to the movie's characters. The characters were well-developed enough that you could understand what motivated them. I found that the roles were well-cast and that the movie's principal actors delivered strong performances.

I have always enjoyed Dennis Quaid on-screen when he is cast in a movie which allows him to demonstrate his range as an actor. This is one of those movies. I found his performance to be natural and credible, and I enjoyed watching him as this character.

Topher Grace was a pleasant surprise. My experience with him has primarily involved watching him on That 70s Show (which I enjoy, but which is by no means a vehicle for ground-breaking acting performances). After watching him in this film, I am going to be keeping my eye on him as a career to watch over the next couple of years. If he continues to make good film choices, I think that we will be seeing a lot more of Topher Grace in the future. He was excellent in this movie and I, for one, feel that he has a promising career in film ahead of him.

Scarlett Johansson, as always, also delivered a strong performance. She has a screen presence that is palpable (it is almost impossible not to look at her when she is on the screen) and she delivered the goods yet again in this film. After Lost in Translation and Girl with a Pearl Earring, it was also a change to see her in a relationship with someone closer to her own age and I hope to see her in similar roles in the future. She is a talented actress and I would hate to see her typecast as the femme fatale to men going through mid-life crises everywhere.

The one criticism that I have heard about this movie is that its plot was simple and its ending was too "neat". With respect, I think that these people are missing the point of this movie. It is a morality tale. The plot is supposed to be simple, the ending is supposed to be neat and we are supposed to learn something from the movie. If anything, I do not think that this movie would have served its purpose as a morality tale if it had not ended as it did. I felt that the movie conveyed a powerful message about a contemporary issue and that it was successful in its purpose.

I would strongly recommend In Good Company to anyone who wants to see a heartwarming movie about family, career and values. It is well-written, well-directed and well-acted and it is an excellent choice during this holiday season.

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