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The Company Men movie poster

The Company Men: Movie Review

Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Directed by: John Wells

Starring: Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Galone
Released by: Odyssey Entertainment

In Short: Suffering from a made-for-TV feel, this tale of job loss and corporate layoffs written and directed by John Wells ("West Wing," "ER") fails to thrill audiences.

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How Unemployed Execs Cope

As “The Company Men” begins, it is 2008 in Boston, and the three main characters are living large. Played by Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper, they are hugely successful corporate executives, living in fabulous houses, with beautiful wives and children who want for nothing. But then the recession hammer falls, and they are suddenly thrust into the unemployment line.

For some, this film written and directed by television impresario John Wells (you know him as the force behind “ER,” “Third Watch,” “West Wing” and “Southland”) may be tough to relate to. In fact, you might just hate these guys, especially Affleck as Bobby Walker, with his elitist attitude and complete inability to face the reality of the downsizing that follows a job loss. But as the film unfolds, Bobby begins to understand just what a jerk his privilege has made him, and he begins to change.

Kevin Costner and Ben Affleck in The Company Men Ben Affleck and Rosemarie DeWitt in The Company Men

That’s when “The Company Men” becomes a film worth watching, as Bobby is forced to take a job, any job, to keep his family from the wolf’s door. Meanwhile, big boss Gene McClary (Jones), who still has his job and his lucrative stock options, is struggling with the impersonality of the corporate layoffs. He tries to save the jobs of the people who have been with the company for decades, but even his power isn’t enough to stave off the wolves at the door.

There’s a lot to like about “The Company Men,” as the men begin to shift their values and priorities and focus on what is truly important in life, replacing Porsches and golf outings with hanging out with their kids and actually developing real interpersonal relationships. But the problem with the film is that, despite its high-powered cast, it feels like a movie that should be on television. That top-notch group of actors (including Kevin Costner, who is terrific as Bobby’s working-class contractor brother-in-law who thinks he is a real jerk) cannot make this flick into anything more than a movie of the week.

In other words, wait for this one to come to your home screen. There’s no need to see it in a movie theater.


Reviewed by Jenny Peters


(Updated: 01/21/11 CT)

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