In Good Company
It’s always funny when a movie’s trailer leads you to to think it’s going to be about one thing, then you watch the movie and it turns out that the trailer has been advertising something that’s really only a minor part of the movie. That was the case with today’s movie, In Good Company. Now generally for this blog I don’t watch the trailer before watching the movie, this is largely because I’m watching movies that I’ve been meaning to see for a long time, either because their initial promotion, or their synopsis on my Netflix recommendations list, seemed intriguing to me. This was not the case for In Good Company. Instead, it was recommended to me by dedicated OM|ED reader Brian. (Hi Brian.) So I checked out the trailer, which makes the movie look like a romantic comedy centered on the relationship between Topher Grace and Scarlett Johansson, with the added twist that Grace, who is a young upstart in the world of business turns out to be the new boss of Johansson’s dad, Dennis Quaid. And hilarity ensues. The trailer was good enough to convince me to watch the movie, which proceeded to go in s surprising direction. But I don’t think that was a bad thing.
What I saw in the trailer isn’t what this moivie is really about. In fact I wouln’t call it a romantic comedy at all. Instead the main character is Quaid’s Dan Foreman, a middle-aged father of two teenage daughters who discovers that his wife is expecting a third child, just in time for his company to be acquired in a corporate merger. Grace plays Carter Duryea, the in-over-his-head young hotshot assigned to take over Quaid’s job, with Quaid kept on as his assistant. The movie’s primary focus is on the mentor/mentee relationship between Dan and Carter that takes on a strong father/son relationship. It’s clear that this is something both characters are missing in their lives. (Carter is revealed to be completely estranged from his father, while Dan’s first question to his wife upon learning of her pregnancy is if she thinks it might be a boy.) The relationship between Carter and Dan’s oldest daughter, Alex (Johansson), is really secondary to the plot, and mainly used as a point of conflict when Dan eventually learns that the two have been secretly dating.
The film offers an interesting insight into the world of corporate life, with office politics, and decisions about layoff’s getting as least as much screen time as the Carter/Alex relationship that dominates the marketing. As someone that works in the corporate world, I found this to be plenty interesting on its own. It’s become somewhat of a trope for Hollywood to make a villain of the faceless corporation (which is evil for no particular reason,) but In Good Company not only gives a face to the company, (Malcolm McDowell in an uncredited role as mogul “Teddy K”) but also does a pretty good job of illustrating the reasoning (however convoluted) behind some corporate decision-making, which adds a nice touch of realism.
Overall I liked the movie, but I did think that the film finds its resolution a little too easily, while at the same time being oddly open-ended. In a way, it almost feels like the extended pilot episode of what could be the latest USA Network original series. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, maybe they wanted to leave a door open for a sequel. Or maybe the whole point was that it’s not about the ending, but about the journey getting there. Or maybe I’m giving writer/director Paul Weitz, or too little credit. Either way, there there was some fun, some feel-good moments, and some genuine laughs along the way, and if there was a sequel, I’d probably watch it. So I guess that means that I’d have to call In Good Company worth seeing.