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In Good Company

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Rated: PG-13
Directed by
Written by:
Released by: Universal Pictures

In Short: What could have been just another workplace comedy has surprising depth thanks to fully realized characters and a firm directorial hand.

Good Company, Indeed
A Smart, Successful Film by the Maker of “About a Boy”
By Andrew Bender

The corporate world can be demeaning, as anyone can tell you who’s ever read the Wall Street Journal, watched “Working Girl” or, uh, worked. 51-year-old head of ad sales Dan (Dennis Quaid) learns this first-hand when the magazine he works for is taken over by a media conglomerate.

Dan is replaced (though not fired) by Carter (Topher Grace), a 26-year-old up-and-comer who’s mastered business lingo but hasn’t experienced business “do-o.” Instead of learning from his elders and betters, Carter fires some and dictates to the rest, and he ends up sounding like a smarmy, chirpy, obsequious little nub. He buys a Porsche, and we hate him.

But when Carter crashes the car (on his way out of the dealership!), the moment is, as he would put it, tasty, and thus begins his comeuppance. It would have been easy to make “In Good Company” a revenge flick, but writer/director Paul Weitz has wisely chosen to develop the relationship between Dan and Carter. When Carter falls for Alex, Dan’s college-student daughter (a premise that sounds ickier than it plays, thanks to an assured performance by Scarlett Johansson), the action really heats up.

Paul Weitz and his brother Chris have a real knack for father and son stories – they also made “About a Boy” – and for showing characters with realistic flaws. Sure, Carter starts the film cocky and unlikable, but gradually you begin to empathize with this lonely little boy of 26. Dan, too, is righteous and usually right, but that doesn’t stop him from overstepping his bounds. Even the comely, intelligent Alex does not escape: a seduction scene in her dorm room, while steamy, is filled with hilarious, cringe-inducing clichés.

It’s this combination of a strong, well-observed story and smart performances that make “In Good Company” a worthy investment.

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