In Good Company
The best strategy for "In Good Company" would be to file for creative bankruptcy.
It's often highly ironic when Hollywood decides that a particular topic is ripe for ridicule. In the case of "In Good Company," director Paul ("American Pie") Weitz belittles the empty, ass-kissing culture of young, corporate America. Again, seems ironic.
The idea here is that corporations are so devoid of common sense that they're filled to the gills with pre-pubescent ladder-climbers like Carter Duryea (Topher Grace), automatons who spew the company line like cheerleaders reciting their "Give Me an A" routine. Such sycophantic repetition is rewarded with unbelievable promotions and the completely inexperienced Carter is given control of ad sales at Sports America magazine, leaving the former and older head, Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid), dumbfounded.
Fortunately for Dan, he's not immediately drop-kicked into pink slip hell like most of his colleagues. Instead, Carter falls for Dan's hot daughter, Alex (Scarlett Johansson), and realizes that this makes Dan the last guy in the place he should fire lest the sex wagon suddenly depart the station.
Thankfully, the corporate world is so devoid of meaning, belonging or genuine reward that even the dense, the dumb and the willfully gullible eventually hit their limit and conclude that worshipping at the feet of The Donald isn't worth the perpetual philosophical discomfort. Carter suffers precisely such a bout of mental anguish. Despite a Porsche and a mind full of enough hip business lingo to make Richard Branson squirm, Carter can't help but envy the evident fullness of Dan's life. Suddenly, Carter has an ethical meltdown that has everything in it but the little animated light bulb above his head.
Life in a Hollywood movie is always ridiculously simple, and Weitz tries to obscure this by making small details seem impressively unpredictable. For instance, at the beginning of the movie, Dan finds a pregnancy test in a trashcan he assumes belongs to Alex, but which turns out to be his wife's (Marg Helgenberger). This elicits that semi-amused response from the audience that could just as easily be produced by filling the theater with spray paint fumes. Such flourishes may be cute, but they merely serve to distract from the predictable story.
It's hard to imagine a cast of characters more vanilla than this one. By themselves, Topher Grace and Scarlett Johansson are wooden. Together they make for the kind of chemistry one might find on an episode of "Logging Today." Dennis Quaid rounds out a cast ideally suited for conveying that kind of suburban angst that nobody but angst-ridden suburbanites really cares about.
Ultimately, the quaint dual meaning of the title only serves to highlight a film whose cuteness can't make up for its lack of depth. The best strategy for "In Good Company" would be to file for creative bankruptcy.
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