In Good Company


Directed by: Paul Weitz
Written by:Paul Weitz
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, Marg Helgenberger, David Paymer
Released: April 21, 2005
Grade: A-

As an advertisement salesman, 51-year-old Dan Foreman (Quaid) and his team have just had their best ever year for Sports America.  As good as he is at his job, he’s about to learn a key rule in business – don’t take anything for granted.  Sports America has just been taken over by a corporate giant who plans on doing a little “restructuring”.  Dan has been demoted and now leading the ad sales division is 26-year-old Carter Duryea (Grace).

Carter is supremely ambitious but also inexperienced.  One of his first assignments is to cut staffing costs and many loyal employees are shown the door.  This isn’t as easy as Carter hoped it to be.  He’s been trained to put the “bottom line” above all else but there’s a growing maturity in him that has him doubting this mentality.  To further make things difficult for Carter, his wife of just 5 months has left him and his long work hours leave no hope for reconciliation.

Dan knows that it’s not easy for a man of his age to find a new job.  He sticks around at Sports America and tries to keep his objections to a minimum.  He’s not pleased but he needs the dollars.  Carter on the other hand, soon realises he’s in over his head.  He turns to Dan as a mentor and a friendship develops.  It’s about to become even more complicated when Carter starts courting Dan’s daughter, Alex (Johansson). 

Being a young man who works in an office environment, I could very much relate to this film.  The film explores some interesting issues such as aging employees, long work hours and the effects of a restructure.  The work element though is secondary to the story of the bond that grows between Dan and Carter.  That said, I’m not sure the film is perfectly balanced.  The screenplay tries to skirt some of the darker issues to try to keep a more upbeat tone.

Star Topher Grace made a cameo in Ocean’s 12 where he makes a reference to this particular film and how he “phoned in” his performance.  It was the funniest joke in Ocean’s 12 and I admire that Topher has a sense of humour about it.  There’s nothing sub-par about his efforts here and I enjoyed his fast-talking and quirky mannerisms.  As their characters do in the film, Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace work very well together.

In Good Company is written and directed by Paul Weitz.  I’m a fan of his work and his knack for creating great feel-good flicks which aren’t soppy or sentimental.  Weitz directed the first American Pie film and both directed and co-wrote About A Boy.  If you haven’t seen either of this films yet, get to the video store at once.

It’s taken a while for In Good Company to reach Australian cinemas.  After its January release in the States, the film was to be released here back in March.  It was pulled at the very last minute which came as a surprise to many.  None more so than Brisbane’s leading newspaper, The Courier Mail.  Critic Des Patridge’s review was printed despite the fact the film wasn’t even showing!  Thankfully, the film is now on show and deserves his good review.