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In Good Company (2004)
Rated PG13

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, and Scarlett Johansson

Rating:
***1/2
out of
*****

Carter Duryea (Topher Grace), at first glance, seems to be one of those annoying, soulless yuppies who seem to exist solely to sleaze their way up the corporate ladder. When the company he works for buys out a publishing firm, he's promoted to the position of advertising sales manager at the firm's flagship publication, Sports America magazine. Of course, it doesn't matter that he has no experience in that realm of business. He works for the new owners and so, in today's business world, that's enough qualification for him to be responsible for the hiring and firing of people who've got a lifetime's worth of experience in that field. People like Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid), the former ad sales manager, who now finds himself with a boss half his age with no experience in the field.

In the world of corporate thinking, Dan is a liablilty. He's old, set in his ways, and has a large salary. Carter is flexible, cunning, and aspires to be like Teddy K. (Malcolm McDowell), the Rupert Murdoch-like boss for whom they now both work. Carter smartly decides to keep Dan as a "wingman". Dan is thankful to keep his job as he's got a family to support, including a baby on the way. Carter does, however, have to pair down the sales team at Sports America and begins firing Dan's former teammates to meet that ever-present bottom line.

Carter, however, isn't exactly the soulless yuppie he might seem to be. When his marriage goes sour, he finds himself alone and with no friends. His co-workers at Sports America dispise him. After a team meeting, Carter manages to invite himself to Dan's house for dinner. There, he meets Dan's college-age daughter, Alex (Scarlett Johanssen), who brings out the honesty in him. They really hit it off, and a romance blossoms, but they keep the relationship a secret from her father for obvious reasons.

Carter and Alex's ruse is short-lived when Dan discovers them together at a restaurant and confronts them. Seeing his daughter with the man who demoted him demoralizes Dan but gives him the courage to say what's on his mind, rather than continuing to tow the corporate line. So, when Teddy K. makes a speech to rally the troops at Sports America, Dan confronts him with some straight-to-the-point questions about the thinking behind the corporate mentality. This puts Dan and Carter on the hotseat and they have to put aside their differences to save their jobs.

In Good Company is much better than I thought it could possibly be. Thankfully, it gives the characters some shades of grey in what I believed would be a very black and white "good guy vs. bad company" movie. In a rather hamfisted way, it does ask a lot of questions about the sanity of the world we live in where the same company that makes our breakfast cereal also manufactures cell phones and publishes magazines.

Dennis Quaid plays Dan as a very likeable family guy. He's a perfect actor for this type of role, which isn't too far away from his work in The Rookie, which also showed that age alone doesn't define your ability to do a good job. Topher Grace plays both sides of Carter Duryea well. He's likeable and loathsome at the same time, which is quite a feat in my opinion.

In Good Company's got a little comedy, a little romance and a little drama and provides solid, if ultimately forgettable, entertainment.

Trivia: Scenes from the movie were filmed at New York University's freshman dorm, Hayden Hall. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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