PG-13 for some sexual content and drug references.
Jan. 14, 2005
Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson,
Selma Blair, Clark Gregg
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'In Good Company'
By Nathaniel Bell
- 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.
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
Nathaniel Bell is a film student at Biola University. Review used
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