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In Good Company
cast: Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, Marg Helgenberger, and Selma Blair

writer and director: Paul Weitz

109 minutes (12) 2004 widescreen ratio 16:9
EIV DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Emily Webb
Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) is a 51-year-old ad executive for a national magazine who gets a new boss... nearly half his age. Dan is of the old school, where business is done through handshakes and carefully cultivated client relationships whereas Carter Dureya (Topher Grace) is a product of business school and preaches 'corporate synergy' ('Synergy' was this film's working title). To add insult to injury for Dan, Carter is also sleeping with his daughter, college student Alex (Scarlett Johansson), and his wife (Marg Helgenberger) is expecting a baby. The differences between Dan and Carter don't just stop with age - Dan is a devoted family man whilst Carter's seven-month marriage to Kimberley (Selma Blair) is crumbling despite the trappings of material success that they both enjoy.

I expected a lot from this film and I was disappointed. But then, that's my fault for expecting that the glowing reviews of this film were actually accurate. In Good Company has all the right ingredients - a great cast and a theme of the world of the fast changing workplace. Dennis Quaid, after a long time out of the A-list being Mr Meg Ryan, shows that he is more than capable of carrying a film. Topher Grace, in his first leading role after a very successful stint in the hit U.S. sitcom That '70s Show, is boyishly cute and funny and is destined for big things, probably as a comic actor.

The dynamic between he and Quaid works well however, less convincing was his romance with Johansson (of course, it's completely understandable why he would want to get involved with her. I know quite a few men who openly admit in front of their partners. 'I love you but if Scarlett walked in the door and wanted me, I'd have to go...'). Both the characters are unsure of themselves: Carter, having had incredible success at a young age, is empty and knows it, hence his attraction to Dan and his 'nuclear' family. Alex is 21 and at college, a time where she is trying out different things (unconvincingly her dad's boss). Their romance is schmaltzy, although Grace delivers his lines wittily (on Alex's advances that lead to romance, "Uh, I heard this rumour... alcohol impairs your judgment").

Disappointingly, the whole movie descends into mushiness, especially when dealing with the issue of the big, evil corporation screwing the little guy. I don't know what kind of childhood director Paul Weitz had but in this film, he harks back to traditional family values that seen to be slipping away. It is an idealistic film driven by dialogue that doesn't quite hit the mark.

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