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Topher Grace and Dennis Quaid in 'In Good Company'

Movie Info


PG-13 for some sexual content and drug references.


Jan. 14, 2005




Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, Selma Blair, Clark Gregg


Paul Weitz


Universal Pictures


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'In Good Company'

By Nathaniel Bell
Guest Reviewer - One of the preeminent pleasures of In Good Company, the amiable new comedy written and directed by Paul Weitz, is observing a group of disingenuous businesspeople let down their defenses to become needy and vulnerable. Convincingly set within the callous world of competitive advertising, the film features an ensemble whose foremost mission is to act cool and collected—to sell, sell, sell—even as they lead lives of quiet desperation.

One of these characters is Carter Duryea (Topher Grace), a fresh-faced, 26-year-old hotshot promoted to a prominent executive position at a sports magazine. His icy babe of a wife (Selma Blair) wants to leave him, and his newly bought luxury sedan gets smashed before it leaves the dealership. In these early scenes, Carter wears the bewildered expression of an abandoned puppy. Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) is the 51-year-old father of two (with a third on the way) who is replaced by the cocky upstart and must now play “wingman” to a kid half his age. At first, their relationship is characterized by professional resentment, but their mutual umbrage soon develops into something tender, though not entirely surprising. Carter becomes the son Dan never had. Naturally, things get complicated when Carter becomes romantically involved with Dan’s independent daughter Alex (Scarlett Johansson) and decides to keep it a secret.

Scarlett Johansson and Topher Grace in 'In Good Company'This romantic subplot is the most predictable, and therefore the weakest, section of the story. It’s not exactly shocking these days to see a studio film in which the two leads hop into bed as soon as they look at each other, although in this particular case, it puts a damper on an otherwise conservative observational comedy.

Weitz’ greatest triumph is his refreshing depiction of a relatively functional family unit—something of a rare bird in contemporary cinema. Quaid, who has a knack for playing fathers (see Frequency), is enormously likable in a role that fits him like a Brooks Brothers suit. There’s an exquisitely underplayed moment where he drops his daughter off at college and briefly winces in order to hold back his tears. Even some of the more casual father-daughter scenes, like the one on a tennis court bench, carry the unmistakable ring of emotional truth.

But the film’s central conflict is seeing a self-prescribed “emotionally retarded, anal retentive” young man and his newly found father figure butt heads with the blasphemy of corporate culture, made incarnate in the smugly condescending Steckle (Clark Gregg), and the advertising demigod Teddy K (an amusing cameo by the great British actor Malcolm McDowell). In the midst of an environment that congratulates fakery, they discover something truly genuine.

In Good Company is rated PG-13 for some sexual content and drug references.

Nathaniel Bell is a film student at Biola University. Review used by permission.

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