Back Rowe Reviews
Real Time Movie Reviews from the Back Row of a Theater

In Good Company (PG-13)

Directed by: Paul Weitz
Starring: Dennis Quaid
January 2005

“Lighthearted Dramedy is Good, But Not Great”

The changing face of corporate America! That pretty much sums up the plot to In Good Company. Oh, and never date the daughter of a man you just demoted.

Neither an all-out comedy, nor a full-on drama,
In Good Company won’t be mistaken as a barnburner, but it certainly isn’t a bad way to spend two hours. Dennis Quaid plays Dan Foreman, veteran ad man at Sports America magazine; husband to Ann (Marg Helgenberger) and father to Alex (Scarlett Johansson). The company that owns the periodical is sold to a rival corporation and callow upstart, Carter Duryea (Topher Grace) is sent to head up the advertising department where he promptly supplants Dan and fires half the staff.

Carter relies heavily upon Dan, his “wing man,” for marketing advice, because he’s way out of his depth: the only thing Carter knows how to do is talk—his improvised motivational speeches and ad hoc solutions get him out of one jam after the next. Being a quick thinker and fast talker has always gotten him by in the past, but Carter quickly realizes he’s a sham; his recent divorce from his wife (Selma Blair) makes that painfully obvious (now he sleeps on a couch at work). After his promotion, Carter buys Porsche, but gets in an accident the moment he drives it off the lot (he doesn’t even know how to use a stick shift), presenting the image of a man so driven by the need to succeed that he’s never taken the time to learn anything on the way up.

A word that pops up a lot in the movie is “synergy,” and while the film’s pacing often lacks it, the incisive commentary on the capricious nature of the business world is amusing and didactic. Revered financial maven, Teddy K. (Malcolm McDowell), delivers a sermon on synergy at a staff meeting and uses an array of high-sounding words to mesmerize a pack of “yes men” at the office, but Dan isn’t bamboozled and stands up to the blathering businessman. This risky move results in Dan getting his old job back and Carter and his cronies getting fired. Though his failed relationship with Alex provides him with some clarity, it’s Dan’s firm hand (and right cross) of guidance that brings Carter to a place of self-discovery. In the end, poetic justice is served—the young man so bent on getting ahead in life, ends up with nothing.

Morality lesson aside, the movie has some great character moments—like when Dan and Carter first meet and compare ages, or when Carter invites himself over for dinner. However, for some inexplicable reason,
In Good Company never fully realizes its potential, despite excellent performances and a decent storyline. Like it claims in the title, the movie isn’t great, nor is it poor—it’s simply “good.”

Rating: 2 1/2