Director: Paul Weitz
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett
Johansson, David Paymer, Philip Baker Hall
RunTime: 1 hr 50 mins
Released By: Shaw
Date: 10 March 2005
Foreman (DENNIS QUAID) is 51 and his life is good…on
the whole. The long-term head of ad sales at the weekly Sports
America has just celebrated the magazine’s biggest year,
thanks in large part to Dan’s warm, honest, handshake
deal style and the departmental esprit de corps he fosters.
Even the news of his wife’s unexpected pregnancy and
the acceptance of his eldest daughter, Alex (SCARLETT JOHANSSON),
into tony (not to mention expensive) NYU leave Dan happy,
though not entirely unconcerned about family finances—but
he will, as he always has, manage.
Carter Duryea (TOPHER GRACE) is 26 and thinks his life is
awesome, mostly. The whiz kid has been devoting himself single-mindedly
to getting ahead at the multi-national conglomerate Globecom.
Management even knows his name—Carter is being “groomed”
for his next rung on the corporate ladder: heading up ad sales
at one of the cornerstone publications newly acquired by Globecom
in their latest takeover, the magazine Sports America. Unfortunately
for Carter, his promotion coincides with the crumbling of
his seven-month marriage and he has no one, save a pet fish,
to share his joy with. But he knows he’s on his way,
he’s going places—and he’ll manage.
Dan’s exasperation at his demotion is nothing compared
to his incredulity at being replaced by the 26-year-old Carter.
Given his new boss’ age and relative experience in ad
sales (none), Dan has little desire to be Carter’s “wing
man.” But in light of the new developments at home,
he needs his job as much as Carter needs his. Forging a tenuous
relationship out of corporate necessity, the two begin working
together to meet Globecom’s mandate of cutting the department’s
budget while increasing revenue by 35 percent.
Carter’s zeal to deliver to upper management doesn’t
win him many fans in the Sports America offices. His bottom
line focused approach, somewhat lacking in the human side
of business, is often at odds with Dan and his devotion to
his staff. As Dan sees it, these people are a family—something
Carter is sorely lacking. The new department head’s
loneliness even prompts him to call a Sunday staff meeting
and then invite himself to Dan’s home for dinner with
the Foremans, where Carter and Alex have a chance to talk
while Alex whoops her dad’s boss at foosball. Later,
when the lonely ad salesman runs across the equally lonely
NYU transfer student at a Manhattan cafe, the chance meeting
rekindles the sparks initially felt at the family dinner…sparks
that begin an affair, which the pair find themselves hiding
from Dan. The corporate handbook has precious little to say
about sleeping with your employee’s collegiate daughter
and if word were ever to get out, news of their affair would
seriously threaten Carter’s détente with Dan,
Alex’s close relationship with her father and the progress
the two salesmen have made at Sports America.
All in all, life for both Dan and Carter just got a bit more
be honest, I didn’t think much of the title but am fairly
glad that they changed it to “In Good Company”
considering that the original one was “Synergy”.
And yes, the word synergy does play a part in the film, somehow.
how often does a movie about the fear of being “let
go” or getting fired, about the worry of getting a slimmer
paycheck, about old school versus new school, come along and
its not a local film? Well, this is the one.
Foreman (Dennis Quaid), head of advertisements for Sports
America is enjoying a nice life, a great job, and a great
family. Suddenly, his company is bought over by corporate
giant, Globecom and his world is turned upside down (for a
brief moment) when a young, half his age, Carter Duryea (Topher
Grace) steps in and takes over his place at the top, nudging
him into a “wingman” role. Things take a turn
for the worse when his eldest daughter, Alex (Scarlet Johansson)
starts to take a liking to Carter and they get together.
Weitz, whose previous film, About a Boy, was nominated for
Best Adapted Screenplay at last year’s Academy Awards.
He follows it up with an original script in the form of In
Good Company which has characters the audience is able to
sympathize with. And in his first real outing as a solo director,
he’s managed to make In Good Company a light-hearted
movie with serious undertones of reality.
his past few films, Dennis Quaid has been choosing prime roles.
His most notable and acclaimed outing includes his portrayal
of an injured baseball player who makes his return to the
big league in The Rookie (2002). Here, as Dan Foreman, the
ever charismatic Quaid fits into the role comfortably and
appears somewhat sagacious to the high-earning but problem-ridden
Carter Duryea played with much boyish appeal by Topher Grace.
Fans of That 70’s Show would find Grace to be no stranger
at all but would find his transition into drama to be a genuine
surprise. Grace, like Quaid, too has been choosing meaty roles
which allow him to showcase his versatility. That said; keep
a look out for his lead role in the upcoming “P.S.”
with Laura Linney. In this, his portrayal of Carter Duryea
allows him to explore different surfaces of emotions; the
head of advertising who knows nuts about advertising, having
to deal with a short-time wife, the driver of a banged-in
Porsche and being overly guilty of sleeping with Foreman’s
daughter. Like a chameleon, he manages to transit from one
to the other, pulling the role off and I couldn’t imagine
anyone else being Carter Duryea. Double Golden Globe nominee
Scarlet Johansson provides warmth in both men’s worlds
but her character was a little under-developed and she appeared
a bit stiff throughout.
enough, the average working Singaporean will be able to identify
with Dan Foreman and his department’s plight of the
fear of being fired, of getting lower pay and having young
graduates taking over his/her place. But the film is more
that just about that. In Good Company is about family and
how we all need one another and how we fill the gaps in each
other’s lives. This film is one that is in the company
of good, memorable films.
Review by Mohamad Shaifulbahri