In Good Company is a “feel good” movie about the ruthless corporate world. Now, is such a thing possible? Writer/Director Paul Weitz almost pulls it off. The movie stars Dennis Quaid as Dan Foreman, the head of advertising sales for a sports magazine. All goes down the toilet for Dan when the sports magazine is swallowed up my a major media conglomerate. Enter Carter Duryea, played by Topher Grace. Carter is brought in as the new “boss”, but he’s young and in way over his head. Carter decides to keep Dan…around. There’s also a romance too, as Carter hooks up with Dan’s daughter Alex (played by the lovely Scarlett Johansson). That’s the basic gist.
The performances are all excellent here. Topher Grace seems perfectly cast. Johansson, as always, is a complete delight. But Dennis Quaid really seems to be coming into his own lately in these “older man” roles. Quaid has definite screen presence. David Paymer’s performance is also worth noting, as the sad sack long time employee of the magazine.
Paul Weitz (of American Pie fame) seems to breaking out of that rauncy American comedy mode. His About a Boy (with Hugh Grant) showed the maturity of his comic vision. But with In Good Company, Weitz tries to tackle “big issues”, the corporate world, and tries to find the human heart. I’m not sure if it quite worked. The last half hour seems a bit “false”. But Weitz deserves full credit for trying to make something original: a movie about the savage corporate world without resorting to savagery himself.
The audio mix is in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is a personal, character driven film. There’s not too much scope. But the sound is clear and clean. There are some effective uses of environmental sound on the rear speakers. Rap concerts can be heard well and basketball courts always have a nice echoey effect. There’s nothing too spectacular about this mix. It’s natural sounding, without being boring. For the multi-lingual, you can also listen to this film in French and Spanish Dolby 5.1.
I must say, the video is a tad disappointing. Show with a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio, this video transfer seems to lack clarity. Right from the first shot, there is a feeling of fuzziness. Perhaps this is an effect the director wanted. But the lack of clarity seems to carry over throughout the film. There is a lot of brown in the movie (office walls, basketball courts), but this color also seems to carry over to the flesh tones. There seems to be an unnaturalness to the skin. Night scenes also appear to be lacking in clarity; blacks aren’t as solid as they could be. Speckling appeared from time to time, which was odd. Maybe I’m being too hard. It’s an okay transfer, leaning towards mediocrity.
First off, there is a director and actor commentary. You’d expect Paul Weitz to be a laugh riot, since he was the American Pie guy. But, actually, Weitz is a very sensible, down to earth guy. He does most of the talking. Topher Grace pops in from time to time. Nothing earth shattering to offer.
Next up is a deleted scenes feature. The deleted scenes, in total, run about 16 minutes. Paul Weitz provides optional commentary. Weitz also provides excellent reasons for why the scenes were excised from the film. Directors should give it a listen.
Then there is a feature called Synergy. Synergy has an important place in the film. But for the DVD features, synergy stands from something else. Each letter in the word “synergy” is the name for a specific featurette. Does this make sense? For example, “S” stands for “stars”. So for that 5 minute featurette, the “stars” of the film talk about why they loved working on it. Make sense? So the featurettes cover different aspects of the producion, and they are as follows: Stars, Youth, gettiNg older, rEal life, New YoRk locations, editinG, and storY. I hope I didn’t totally confuse you.
In Good Company is a movie that tries to have its heart in the right place. It’s a bold attempt, especially with the subject matter being ruthless American corporate greed. I won’t say the film is a failure, but it’s certainly a good watch. The director, Paul Weitz, has shown the promise of a maturing filmmaker, and that he’s said bye bye to American Pie. Despite mediocre picture quality, the interesting features, quality sound, and enteraining film will put you “in good company” for the night.
Special Features List
- Director and Actor commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- “Synergy” Featurettes
- Cast and Crew Biographies