In the Company of Men

Bomb Rating: 

In attempting to convince a friend to join me at a screening of "In the Company of Men," I offered this plot summary: "It's about two corporate ladder-climbers who decide to torture a woman in order to reclaim their male power in our politically-correct culture." Her response was indicative of the heart-warming appeal this film offers to most well-adjusted people: "Sorry, but I'm scheduled to spend my evening licking my toilet."

Although the torture is strictly mental, not physical, you'll spend the entire film deciding which of the males deserves the majority of your hatred: Chad (Aaron Eckhart), the frat-boyish instigator who spews venom at everyone he meets, or Howard (Matt Malloy), Chad's dweeby boss whose luck with women has gone decidedly south. To reclaim their maleness, they elect to find a desperate woman, convince her they're both in love with her and then disappear just as things get really serious. On a six-week business trip they find such a woman in Christine (Stacy Edwards), a deaf secretary.

This film is pretty much like an episode of "Friends" gone horribly awry, analogous to Ross, Joey and Chandler spending their half an hour passing out naked pictures of Monica at the local coffee shop. The characters spend an inordinate amount of time standing around and rehashing the minutiae of day-to-day life. They stand on rooftops, in cars, around tables, in offices, and prattle on like drunken Aunt Gabby at a family reunion.

This movie's premise, hailed by critics as "daring," is actually the path of least resistance. Director Neil LaBute spends his two hours idly jabbing pins into the superegos of moviegoers whose sensitivity training has rendered them hypersensitive to such stimuli. Consequently, this movie produces one of two reactions: The intelligent viewer exits the theater insulted by LaBute's simplistic intellectual game; the easily manipulated simpleton spends the whole movie looking to rip the penis off the first alpha male in grabbing range.

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