A review of “In Good Company” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: PG-13 for language and mature themes

Run Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

 

 

A terrific ensemble cast is the crux of this lightweight comedy/drama that speaks to a universal nightmare: becoming redundant.

Dennis Quaid is at the top of his game as successful magazine advertising hotshot Dan Foreman; husband, father and quite unexpectedly subordinate to 26-year old biz school prodigy Carter Duryea (Topher Grace).  Dan’s company has been acquired in a corporate takeover and it’s anyone’s guess whose head will be next on the chopping block.

Carter preaches the mantra of corporate synergy with a vengeance, a concept that’s lost on a hard-bitten veteran who believes in the power of a firm handshake. Carter’s lonely workaholism and pathetic desperation to connect compels him to plead with Dan to step in as his “awesome wing man” (ouch!) while he futilely cross-promotes the magazine with cutting-edge “Krispity Krunch” snack food.

Things go from bad to worse in a flash: Dan’s overage wife Ann (Marg Helgenberger) drops the bomb that she’s pregnant and 18-year old daughter Alex (Scarlett Johansson) needs tuition for her spendy university  -- this on top of a snaky mortgage and the unceremonious heave-ho of longtime friends and colleagues. What else can go wrong?

The lowest blow of all, that’s what. Carter is developing feelings for Alex and the couple is seeing each other on the sly.  Sigh.

There’s a trusty, familiar sense to the cutthroat nature of big business; ditto a solid social sensibility that reveals the warmth and integrity of family ties. Charming pro Quaid delivers a grounded performance that manages to smooth over some narrative rough patches and Grace is a revelation as a sensitive man-boy way in over his head.

Unfortunately Company lacks the sharp sting of director Paul Weitz’s About a Boy, relying on the stickety-wickets of old school/new school conflict and lightweight satire rather than maturely wrought laughs. The core romance goes soft in the third act and a conventional climax yields few surprises. 

Feel good entertainment that’s lacking soul.