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January 2005

By Wilson Morales

In Good Company

Distributor: Universal Pictures
Director: Paul Weitz
Producers: Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz
Screenwriter: Paul Weitz
Cinematographer: Remi Adefarasin
Composer: Stephen Trask
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, Marg Helgenberger, David Paymer, and Malcom McDowell
Screened at Loews 19th Street East, NYC




Dennis Quaid is on a roll. He's getting good at playing the average guy who goes through a midlife crisis as he did in "Far From Heaven" and "The Rookie". The average man goes through life trying to make it through day by day. He works hard to support himself as well as his family. When father time catches up and a new generation of workers comes into the workforce with innovative ideas, change is imminent. This happens in the real world and with "In Good Company", the Weitz Brothers have crafted a tender realistic film that audiences can appreciate. It's entertaining and well written. Quaid and Grace provide the perfect balance between drama and comedy.

Dan Foreman is happy and good at his job as an advertising salesman for a sports magazine. Being a manager, he still goes out trying to land the big client. Life at home is just dandy. His wife informs that she's pregnant again and his eldest daughter Alex (Johansson) wants to go to New York University, which is going to be expensive. Enter Carter Duryea (Grace). Carter is a young hotshot salesman who's brought in to replace Dan when the company is taken over by a billionaire (McDowell), who thinks global domination is the key to success. As the older employees see the end is near, so does Dan. Can he keep up with the new kid, who he feels doesn't know as much about the business as he does. Carter does just the opposite. Instead of laying him off, Carter entrenches himself in Dan's life. Not only does he convince Dan to have him over for dinner, much to Dan's chagrin, Carter is slowly smitten with Alex. If he and Dan can form a "synergy" and mix the old with new, then the company will prosper. It starts working out until Dan discovers that the relationship between Carter and Alex isn't the synergy he was expecting.

Topher Grace gives the same type of performance he gave in "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton". He brings in a certain level of humor that's sedate. As with some other films, the role of the new young boss could have been cliché, but credit goes to Weitz for writing a multi-dimension character. It's interesting that Paul Weitz, who co-created the "America Pie" with his brother Chris and co-produced this film, has written a film that speaks to many and not just the college kids who want a laugh-out-loud comedy film. As with "About a Boy", this film offers us real characters with real emotions. No one wants change, and when it's inevitable, the film shows the tolls and emotions it has on the central character played by Quaid. Quaid is just flat out superb. It's straight-forward, realistic, and tender. No one wants the task of firing long time colleagues and no man wants his daughter dating his boss to say the least, and Quaid's emotional expressions have an impact that speaks many volumes. Helgenberger and Johansson are relatively low-key and underused considering their where their careers are now. Helgenberger's role is almost a non-existent, she's merely seen for plot purposes, the conventional wife to a good hard working man, while Johansson's role is resigned. Written by Paul Weitz, he's managed to construct a film that many of today's working force will appreciate because not only does it speak to them now or later on in life, but it offers some light comedy for amusement.