Genre: Romance/Comedy
Director: Paul Weitz
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, David Paymer, Philip Baker Hall
RunTime: 1 hr 50 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: PG

Release Date: 10 March 2005

Synopsis :

Dan 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 complicated.

Movie Review:

To 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.

But, 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.

Dan 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.

Paul 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.

For 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.

True 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.

Movie Rating: B+

Review by Mohamad Shaifulbahri

  Publicity Stills of "In Good Company" (Courtesy from Shaw)
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