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In Good Company /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, Selma Blair, Clark Gregg

Directed by: Paul Weitz

Produced by: Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz
Written by:
Paul Weitz
Universal Pictures





     In Good Company would translate well into a sitcom, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. At a time in which the majority of scripted television shows have long left the airwaves and the few still on are trite and mediocre, this movie reminded me of old episodes of “Boy Meets World” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” that I would watch when I was a little kid. I’m not sure if there has ever been a cast of characters—either on television or film—as warm, funny, and likeable as those in In Good Company. It’d be quite a treat to be able to watch a new episode starring them, once a week. Unfortunately, it’s not likely that writer/director Paul Weitz will be recreating his film in the form of a TV show, anytime soon, especially considering its ending. This fact, however, does not detract from the enjoyment that In Good Company, the movie, provokes. I smiled for its entire 109 minute duration, and felt as though I had just left the presence of several great friends as its credits rolled amidst the sounds of its catchy title-track.

     Dennis Quaid, who finally succeeds in his fourth attempt to put on a good performance in 2004, plays Dan Foreman, a fifty-one-year-old advertising executive at Sports America magazine. However, when the company is taken over by WorldCom, a dominating corporation, Dan is demoted to a much lower position. His job’s main duty shifts from meeting with owners of the magazine’s affiliate companies to advising his new boss, the twenty-six-year-old Carter Duryea (Topher Grace). Carter has an impressive degree from business school under his belt, but no experience in the Corporate World, let alone life, itself. In fact, after his wife of a few months (Selma Blair) leaves him, he tries to preoccupy himself with work and, one night, even ends up sleeping in his office. While in this state of aimlessness, he falls for Alex (Scarlett Johansson), Dan’s daughter, which proves to be most troublesome. The characters in In Good Company realize how much their professions influence their lives, but what they fail to understand is how similar the concepts of the two are.

     Writer/director Paul Weitz continues with his streak of witty, likeable movies, with In Good Company being his first film since 2002’s great About a Boy. However, his work doesn’t even come close to being the best thing about this picture. That title goes to the performances, which all hit notes of both comedic and dramatic brilliance. Quaid fits the profile of Dan better than any actor currently working that I can think of, and is very likeable in his role. Even more amazing is Topher Grace who, in a breakthrough performance, is able to one-up his co-star. In Good Company represents an extreme rarity in that audiences will sympathize for both the protagonist and the character who, essentially, strips him of his job and creates a lot of inconvenience in his life. Grace and Quaid share great chemistry in crafting this sympathy. Not to mention, Scarlett Johansson, in a tremendously natural and relaxed performance, is always a treat to watch.

     The most admirable of In Good Company’s many effective traits is its genuineness. All of the characters are, at heart, honest people, even when they have trouble recognizing their own personal needs, as human beings. The movie is ultimately about learning from every situation one finds their self in, and the cast does so in a gentle and humbling way. No matter how chaotic and puzzling the situations that they find themselves in may be, viewers realize that these aren’t anything that they cannot resolve. In Good Company flows just like everyday life but does so at an elegant pace, bringing new joys and challenges with each situation that the characters find themselves in. Just like the great sitcoms that I remember from years ago, it always makes for a compassionate, sincere, and, more than anything else, pleasurable, viewing experience.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (Posted in 12.28.2004-2.5.2005 Update)

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