“In Good Company” is a real surprise.
The hype that promised cliché delivers something else entirely.
This is a movie for a night when you want lightness, not enlightenment.
How rare it is these days to be able to say the primary character trait
in the main characters is decency. Cast
by circumstance as natural opponents in a corporate takeover, Dan (Dennis Quaid)
and Carter (Topher Grace) never sink into the expected ugly competition.
Dan is a solid man settled happily with a wife, children, and a job he
loves. The job in corporate sales
gives him a good salary, good co-workers, and fine corner office with lots of
windows. He is not a greedy man,
nor even an ambitious one. He’s
everybody’s ideal boss, full of understanding for the people he manages.
Life is good.
Returning to his fine office from lunch one day, he finds a very young
man, about his daughter’s age, standing comfortably in the room.
“Can I help you?” Dan asks. “Yes,
Dan, I’m Carter, your new boss.” Dan
doesn’t crumble or explode, he accepts; that’s his nature.
To celebrate his new prominence Carter buys a bright new Porsche.
As he sinks into his leather lined success symbol, he drives straight out
of the dealer’s lot into a van. It’s
funny, and it’s humbling. From
that awful point on, Carter has only one eye on success; the other is on the
happy life Dan has managed to achieve.
It’s a nice equation.
After being told “you have the potential to be an awesome wingman to
Carter,” Dan brings the boy home to dinner.
Young boss and daughter (Scarlett Johansson) meet;
Mom (Marg Helgenberger) is smart, perceptive, and terrific.
Carter’s decent instincts are reinforced by this new family. You can
hear him thinking, “So there’s
something else in life.” In some
odd way he is redeemed by his inexperience.
Dennis Quaid’s Dan is rumpled, bronzed, and wrinkled in nice
counterpoint to Topher Grace’s Carter whose tall, thin, perfection is
daunting. We know instinctively
that rumpled here means wisdom and compassion while perfection means an innocent
kid trying desperately to figure out how to be a boss.
The two actors team up to wring good laughs from Paul Weitz’s fast
moving, snappy script.
Scarlett Johansson’s Alex isn’t given much to do. She seems to be there to show that Dan has been a good father and that a nice girl can bring out the best in Carter. There are multiple slaps to the face of globalization and corporate tyranny. To anyone who has worked in a mega corporation, the constant stream of movers and packing boxes screams loudly of the vulnerability of white-collar workers. It’s nice to think, even if we don’t really believe it, that in the covert competition of the corporate world there might be at least one genuinely good boss whose example brings out the best in people.
Copyright (c) Illusion
Return to Ellis Home Page