In Good Company (2004)

(On TV, December 2016) I wasn’t looking forward to In Good Company. The premise itself seems made for maximum cringing potential, as a veteran executive in the midst of a downsizing effort is bossed around by a twentysomething careerist who also starts dating his college-aged daughter. It would be reasonable to expect a film maximizing the misery of its lead protagonist. But writer/director Paul Weitz has something more nuanced than a simple humiliation comedy on its mind—in contrasting two different men, the film develops a mentor/mentee relationship, doesn’t make things easy or simple for the wunderkind and gives plenty of redemption moments for the older man. In Good Company isn’t mean or cruel, but gentle and heartfelt, and couldn’t rely on a better anchor than Dennis Quaid (in his lived-in mature persona) to carry the film. Topher Grace isn’t as annoying as expected as the younger man, while Scarlett Johansson is remarkable as the daughter/girlfriend. It’s not much of a film and yet exactly what it wants to be—there’s a limit to how much audiences will like it, but I’d be surprised if it got bad reviews for anything but being a fairly straightforward dramedy. As for me, I had a relatively good time and found In Good Company rather pleasant. Small compliments, but I have the feeling that this is what this low-key film was going for.

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